Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
America’s Christians often think of themselves as patriots. We pray for our soldiers overseas, send them care packages and launch ministries to their families at home. We quote Washington and Jefferson like Peter and Paul and cling to the idea that America is a nation blessed and sustained by God Himself.
And all the while, we trample underfoot the sacrifice of our soldiers who have bled and died to protect our freedom.
So argues – and convincingly, I might add – a convicting new film debuting this Friday in over 1,000 theaters across the country: “Last Ounce of Courage.”
A film clearly made by Christians, for Christians, “Last Ounce of Courage” is a bold challenge to a sleeping church to stand up for our eroding religious freedom at home, a freedom our soldiers are dying for overseas.
Our men and women in uniform serve in lands where Christians dare not come out in public for fear of reprisal – will we so casually allow the “Home of the Free” to follow suit?
“Last Ounce of Courage” is the story of small-town mayor Bob Revere (played by Marshall Teague of “Roadhouse” and “Armageddon”), whose 15-year-old grandson (played by the award-winning Hunter Gomez of “National Treasure”) re-enters Bob’s life and challenges the old man to bring Christmas back to the lawsuit-fearing little town. When the school tells the grandson he can’t even bring his father’s Bible to school, it hammers home the point that Christian faith is being pushed out of the public square.
The grandfather is doubly convicted by his grandson’s appeal to the memory of his father, Bob’s son, who died in battle to defend the religious freedom Bob has allowed to slip silently into the night.
The film then sets up a battle at home, between Bob’s attempts to bring back Christmas and a “civil liberties” lawyer who insists the mayor is violating the “separation of church and state.”
With a couple of twists and surprises along the way, the film concludes with a pair of powerful scenes that will challenge and inspire Christian audiences to rethink the way we have allowed the “frog” of our religious freedoms to be slowly boiled in the “pot” of our ever-more secularized society.
A trailer for the film can be seen below:
Yet as much as I appreciate the message of the movie, as a film critic, I can’t let “Last Ounce of Courage” escape without discussing its merits and flaws.
On one hand, the acting from the primary adult characters in the film is strong. The family dynamics are moving, and when the characters weep on screen, you really believe they’re weeping. The emotions are vivid and real, and it helps to drive home the depth of the message. The soldier son’s appearance (through an old video) at the end of the film is a solid and moving piece of filmmaking.
On the other hand, this movie plays way too much like a “Christian” film: sacrificing sound storytelling to over-preach its message and dwelling too long on melodramatic conversations. Both the scriptwriting and the musical score are subpar. Too many of the antagonists in the film are mere caricatures, and never does the film really attempt to win the debate over “church and state.” Frankly, this movie preaches to the choir – and perhaps that’s its whole intent – but I doubt its ability to sway the unbeliever.
Still, testimonies of people who have seen the film reveal it is having its intended effect. It’s the kind of film pastors and churches can invite groups to and discuss afterward, and it certainly fires up the audience to take a stand against intimidation, scare tactics and subtle efforts to squash our constitutional freedoms in the name of political correctness.
Finally, “Last Ounce of Courage” honors the men and women who have given their lives, from the Revolution through Iraq and Afghanistan today, by insisting that they died for something. Not political agendas, not oil rights, not the industrial military complex. Say what you want about the reasons politicians may send our troops into battle, this film affirms the troops themselves have a higher, nobler cause in mind.
“Last Ounce of Courage” contains neither profanity nor obscenity.
The film’s only sexuality is a few kisses, some between an unmarried couple, and some mild flirting.
The film’s only significant violence is in war footage, which includes some gunfire, shouting and explosions. There are a couple of shots where a soldier is shown wounded, one a bit gruesomely, and a somewhat traumatic scene where a shell explodes near a group of soldiers on screen.
The film is loaded with references to God, Jesus, prayer and a few passages of Scripture. The term “Hellraiser” is shown on a sign and a motorcycle jacket, but is also the name of one of the film companies that helped create the movie.