For Those In Need of A “Breakthrough”

Breakthrough Poster

Does your prayer life need new life? Does your faith need a fix? Does your belief in the miraculous need some motivation? Then the film “Breakthrough” is for you. It’s especially for you. I believe in miracles, and this film just wrecked me. “Breakthrough” gave me reason to hope all over again. It’s a hard hitting, warm and fuzzy, cerebral yet practical primer on why we all should believe in God.

“Breakthrough” is the ultlimate upset win. It’s a classic comeback, and a total turnaround. John Smith, a 14 -year old star basketball player, is a typical teen. He doesn’t listen to his mom, he doesn’t do his homework, and he doesn’t think he’s living on thin ice. But he is. And yet God gives him a new lease on life with a second chance to make a difference.

In “Breaktkhorugh” it took the faith of a mother and the prayers of the saints to bring John back from the dead. It has intertwined layers of ethos and multiple levels of pathos, all mixed in to a solid, yet sordid story about life and love and how to live a victorious Christian life. Take it from me and do yourself a favor; read this blog and then go out and watch this film. It’s that good. It will do wonders for your soul.

Here’s the New York Times film review by Bilge Ebiri:

“In January 2015, 14-year-old John Smith fell through the frozen surface of a lake in St. Charles, Mo., and remained submerged for 15 minutes. He had no pulse when emergency workers pulled him from the freezing water, or for nearly 45 minutes after; it was reportedly only after audible prayers by his mother, Joyce, that his heart finally started up again. And over the next several days, as his community vigorously prayed for him, the young man made a full, seemingly impossible recovery.

Roxann Dawson’s faith-based film, “Breakthrough,” tells the story of John’s miraculous ordeal with an unassuming simplicity, focusing on the harrowing details of the case without an overreliance on proselytization. Though faith is ever-present — particularly through the devotion of Joyce (Chrissy Metz) and the town’s struggling young pastor (Topher Grace), who remain with John (Marcel Ruiz) every step of the way — the film also wisely dedicates plenty of screen time to the emergency workers and doctors struggling to bring the boy back to life. Here, religion is not in contention with medicine, but seems to work in tandem with it.

The filmmaking may at times be direct and inelegant, but “Breakthrough” isn’t without nuance. Dawson (a TV veteran directing her first feature film) doesn’t sidestep the thorny issue of selective miracles — after returning to school, John wrestles with the fact that he was spared from death while many others aren’t. “Breakthrough” is more suggestive than evangelical, and its willingness to let the mystery of the young man’s survival linger enhances the film’s power. You don’t have to believe in divine intervention to be moved by this story.”

Think B4U Move


“Think Before You Move.”  It’s a moto that fits in sports and in life. And it’s the mantra and mainstay of the film “Life of a King” staring Cuba Gooding, Jr. It’s a must see. Cuba puts in a solid and stirring performance in this rag to spiritual riches story which should incite and inflame, motivate and stimulate all of us to try and “change our world.” The moral of the story is, despite missteps and mistakes, we all should at least try. And in trying to make a difference, you must make the right moves.

Based on a true story, Cuba Gooding, Jr. stars as Eugene Brown, an ex-con who establishes a chess club in Washington, D.C. as a way to reach out to inner city youth and help them make better life choices. That’s the basic premise of Life of a King. And what sounds like a bore fest on paper turns out to be a deeply challenging movie that takes a hard look at a world far too many children find themselves growing up and living in.

DVD Life of A King

Gangs, drugs, prostitution, and violence are what many of these kids see and experience on a daily basis, a world seemingly void of hope, where dignity, respect and honor are nothing more than grand ideas. And it’s in this world where ex-con Eugene Brown begins his outreach to the inner city kids to teach them that they need to think before they move by way of the game of chess.

Life of a King is a captivating, powerful, and stunning independent film, and joins such movies as Freedom Writers, Dangerous Minds, and Lean on Me as one of the best ‘mentor does everything they can to help kids from the city’ type movies.

As usual, Cuba Gooding Jr. (Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, Selma, Red Tails) is superb, playing Eugene Brown with passion and conviction. Likewise, Malcolm M. Mays, Carlton Byrd, and Kevin Hendricks are excellent as three high school friends who come into Eugene’s life around the time he starts the chess club.

Life of a King is powerful, hope filled, and inspiring.  It’s not really a ‘Christian’ movie (one man mentions The Bible), but it does show how one man can truly make a difference in the lives of many. And there are enough unexpected twists and turns to turn this telling from a tiny, trite tryst to a tall and triumphant tale.   

Borrowed from Christian St. John,