Coming to theaters in early 2020 from Manns/Mackie studios
Writer(s): Ty Manns
Director(s): Kevan Otto
Producer(s): Robert C. Bigelow, Troy Duhon, Joel M. Gonzales, Robert Katz, Bishop Charles Mackie, Ty Manns, Pat Mathews, Brandon Riley
Starring: Joey Lawrence, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Robert Ri’chard, Gregory Alan Williams, T. C. Stallings, Shannen Fields, Blue Kimble, Karen Valero, Jeff Rose, Ty Manns, Derrick Gilliam, Stephanie Katz, Delone Manns, Nate Jones, Justin Clark, Roz Williams, Amberiell Hudson, Jermal Martin
Plot Synopsis: Travis Fox is a returning veteran struggling with PTSD and his faith in God.
When Amber’s husband is killed in an overseas bombing while on tour in the Middle East, her entire life seems to come apart piece by piece. She struggles to support her and her daughter in a small town because she obviously didn’t get any military benefits from the government. She also pushes everyone away and doesn’t go to church anymore, but thankfully, a semi-bad-boy race car driver has crashed in town because he needed some time off from doing whatever it was he was doing before. This gives him time to do stuff with all the kids in town, which is where he becomes obsessed with Amber’s daughter and eventually Amber herself. However, Amber still is struggling financially to the point where she needs an old-fashioned loan from the pawn shop. Will the madness ever end?
Production Quality (2 points)
As per usual for most recent Harold Cronk and PureFlix productions, God Bless the Broken Road has a fine, generic one to offer with nothing particularly special or negative about it. The sets, locations, and props are somewhat limited, but camera work, video quality, and audio quality are all fine. The vanilla soundtrack leaves something to be desired, and the editing is poor because of the nature of the story, but on the whole, this is a fine attempt. However, this brand of production is also becoming very common place in Christian entertainment, so it’s time for deep-pocketed outfits like PureFlix to show us a little something more.
Plot and Storyline Quality (-2 points)
Regardless, any good this film has to offer is totally negated by the total nonsense of this plot. At times, it feels copied from a Karen Kingsbury novel since this idea has been done so much before, but it’s actually worse because of the logical inconsistencies and flimsy premise. Too many unrealistic things happen that don’t appear to be rooted in reality, and this makes a mockery of real problems people may face in life. Most of the scenes are cheesily forced to convey a certain point in typical PureFlix Obvious style. An example of this is an old standby: awkward sermonizing of lessons they want the audience to be force-fed. Another instance is shown through the most generic dialogue and conversations that were surely purchased (or stolen) from Acme Stock Dialogue, Inc. The characters are just pawns in the inevitable progression of the plot as convenient turns happen to drive home certain agendas. Perhaps the worst part of it all is the fact that every horribly overused inspirational cliche is car-crashed into this one epic fail of a film…an exploration of how this is done would require a completely separate analysis. As a whole, God Bless the Broken Road is just another example of PureFlix Drama wherein every scene has to be an emotional climax as the characters are just extremely stereotyped caricatures designed to represent issues rather than people. If you’re looking for a corny Christian movie all-in-one deal, this one will be worth your money and time. Otherwise, avoid it like the plague.
Acting Quality (1 point)
While plastic white people take center stage to bore us with bland performances (in their defense, they weren’t given much to work with in the line department), better cast members are forced to take backseat as they watch the madness unfold before them and likely wonder when they’ll ever make a big enough break to no longer be trapped in PureFlix World. Main cast members come off as dead-faced and emotionally blank a lot of the time, which makes the forced emotional climaxes of the plot even worse. In the end, there’s some good here, but this sections rounds off an overall unacceptable effort in today’s Christian entertainment world.
If we wanted the sappiest, most unrealistic Hallmark film we could find, we would watch this film because it at least isn’t constantly interrupted by drug commercials. But who’s got that kind of time? Instead, let’s hope films like God Bless the Broken Road will become less and less commonplace as Christian audiences demand more quality from Christian entertainment creators. We’ve finally gotten to where above-average productions are commonplace, so it’s time to let the writers be the writers when it comes to screenplays.
Aggie never thought it would turn out this way. She had always cared for Elle and Skye, the daughters of the family whose house she cleaned. But when they disappear along with their father, Aggie feels like she has to care for the distraught mother left behind. However, when the mother commits suicide, a string of events are set into motion that alert Aggie to sinister activity that Elle and Skye might be caught up in. Therefore, she takes a leap of faith to get the help she needs in order to get her girls back. As the journey takes her across two continents, Aggie clings to faith in God and to the hope that she will find her girls again.
Production Quality (.5 point)
It seems like the creators of Caged No More had good intentions, but not the resources to pull it off properly. They likely bit off a larger portion than they could chew. At least the video quality is clear, which is something most new Christian movies are finally getting right. The audio quality is passable. The camera work is okay; sometimes it tries to be too ‘dramatic’ and it comes off wrong. However, the lighting is very inconsistent. Some scenes are very dark, seemingly on purpose, but it doesn’t make any sense. What’s more, the sets are too limited for this scope of a plot. The surroundings are fairly realistic but sometimes seem empty. Speaking of scope, the editing of this film is deplorable. As will be discussed next, Caged No More is a collection of spliced together sequences forced to fit together. In short, while the effort is applaudable, the delivery is frustrating to watch.
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
Caged No More is built on a very choppy plot that is patched together with constant narration that either reminds us what just happened or explains something that happened off screen. There is no coherence between subplots, and the one interesting subplot is wasted and underdeveloped. The storyline contains too many leaps in logic and is based far too much on coincidences and happenchance. The characters are thin and empty, crafted with stiff and cardboard dialogue. It’s really a shame that this review has to be so negative, because the genre this film is trying to break into is interesting. The idea behind this film is quite interesting, but it is very much wasted potential. Between the vague ending and the rushed plot, this film felt like it was just speeding to the sequel, but it gave us nothing to be interested in for in the sequel. At this rate, there is little purpose in creating a sequel; money would be better spent on a remake.
Acting Quality (.5 point)
These cast members seem like they mean well, but they have been thrown into the mix with little to no coaching at all. Emotions are very overdone and not believable. Line delivery is forced and awkward. Kevin Sorbo playing two different characters just doesn’t work at all. Christian ‘celebrities’ are shoehorned into the cast only for the sake of having their name on it. In short, there is some potential here, but it is not tapped.
Caged No More is a sad production in many ways. It really could have been a great genre-breaking work based on an important topic, but it fell very short of the mark. It pretends to be something bigger than it is. Buried inside of it are good ideas, but they will likely be wasted as this movie is forgotten over time. We desperately need different genres of Christian\inspirational films, but this is not the way to go about it. Human trafficking is a highly important topic that needs to be exposed, but this isn’t the way. I hope a lesson can be learned here that will make a difference.