I really didn’t know what to expect when I went to see this movie tonight. The synopsis sounded interesting, and, of course, the timing is perfect for the upcoming Easter celebrations, but so often movies intended to convey a Christian message fall short of what one comes to expect at the theatre — they sometimes seem under budget and somewhat melodramatic. I don’t think this is the case here. Director Jonathan M. Gunn (Like Dandelion Dust) has created a smart movie from screenwriters Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon (God’s Not Dead) compelling story, further enhanced by some really great music by The Newsboys.
The story takes place in Chicago, where a large cross dominates the skyline near a bridge. There are 12 people who are off track, lost, seeking something, but they don’t know what; some of them don’t even know they’re empty. There is an older couple (Cybill Shepherd & Lee Majors) who have been living in the past since the death of their adult daughter; the wife of a pastor (Tracy Melchior) who feels incomplete because she can’t have children; a runaway, pregnant teenager (Madison Pettis) who wants to give life to her baby; Joe Phillips (Brian Bosworth) who is dying of leukemia but reaches out to help a little girl and her mother (Makenzie Moss and Mira Sorvino); a paramedic (Liam Matthews), his emergency nurse wife (Valerie Dominguez), and her brother (Joseph Julian Soria) who is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder since being discharged from the army; an emergency doctor (Sean Astin) who thinks that the people he helps should thank him and not God & his lawyer/girlfriend (Andrea Logan White) who eagerly takes on the case to sue the paramedic, Bobby, for sharing his faith with a man who was dying after doing everything medically possible to save him; a young woman (Alexa PenaVega) estranged from her father; and two brothers (Senyo Amoaku & Shwayze) who are heading into gang warfare, theft and murder.
After driving the older couple, Teri and D.J., home from the hospital, Matthew is challenged by a street preacher (Delroy Lindo) who asks, “If you believe, the question is, What are you going to do about it?” Matthew first goes back to find the pregnant teenager he saw going through a dumpster looking for food. Then he struggles with his sermon for the next day and is moved to change it to the challenge of faith-based action. The people from his congregation arrive Sunday morning to find small wooden crosses in the pews. They are encouraged, and respond, beginning to change their own lives and the lives of others as they spread out into the community. The climax comes when many of these people end up in a vehicle pile-up on the bridge, in the shadow of the cross.
In this video, Brian Bosworth talks about his role as Joe in the movie, and Cybill Shepherd discusses the movie and her character, Teri, and about how people who have lost hope get it back. These are very human stories, any of which might belong to the next person you meet. This movie should prompt each of us to look at people without making judgements and to reach out where and when we can with compassion. It should also prompt us to look to the cross and what it represents, how what was accomplished there can change lives. I’ve read a lot of criticisms of this movie on the web but would encourage you to make up your own mind.