By Kelly-Jayne McGlynn, Crosswalk.com
Overcomer, the sixth movie the Kendrick Brothers have created together, has the highest production budget of all their films (War Room, Courageous, Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and Flywheel) at $5 million. And unsurprisingly, one can track an upward swing in quality from their first movies until now, and this film is undoubtedly their best yet. The production values, acting, and storyline are all very well-done and engaging. There are even a couple of twists along the way, all focused on the theme of finding our identities in Christ.
Coach John Harrison (Alex Kendrick) finds his identity shaken with a series of unfortunate news. When the largest factory in his town closes, and people are forced to leave in droves, he can no longer hope to coach an award-winning basketball team, and his sense of self suffers. He reluctantly agrees to coach his school's cross-country team instead, only to find out that only one runner has joined the team, Hannah Scott (Aryn Wright-Thompson). Not only is Hannah the only runner left… she has asthma.
Coach Harrison’s life gets even more interesting through a chance encounter with Thomas Hill (Cameron Arnett), a blind and bed-ridden man with a sticky past. Through prayer and encouraging words from this unlikely new friend, Coach and his wife Amy (Shari Rigby) invest in Hannah’s success wholeheartedly, on and off the track, as they prepare for the biggest race of the year. What they all end up facing together is the question everyone in 2019 needs to answer: “What do you allow to define you?”
"Our culture believes that our identity can come from being just good, or your feelings or your status maybe, your money. We would say that the Creator gets to define his creation. Meaning that, where our identity should be founded is in the one who created us,” Co-Producer and Overcomer star Alex Kendrick told Crosswalk at a recent press junket.
“I would say that the best version of myself is when I am defined by the One who knows me the most, loves me the most, has the authority to tell me who I am. We want to point people to finding themselves in Jesus Christ before anything else," Kendrick added.
The film explores this theme from all angles. Coach Harrison confronts being defined by his career. Hannah must decide if she will be defined by her difficult home life and what people think about her, or by what she sees in Scripture. And Thomas Hill is haunted by whether or not he can be defined apart from his sinful past.
Co-Producer Stephen Kendrick shared how God shaped the idea for the film: “When we started the process with Overcomer, Alex began to unpack this idea of a cross-country runner who’s dealing with the issue of identity, and at the same time, I’d been studying Ephesians 1 and 2. We can see how the Lord was paralleling our paths to specifically make this movie.”
Christian comedian Michael Jr. comments how this movie could not have been conceived by man alone and how God absolutely had a hand in the creative process. “You cannot come up with this story without prayer” he states confidently.
And pray, the Kendrick brothers did. “When we were praying ‘God, what do you want us to make a movie about?’ this is where he prompted us. We weren’t originally going to make a movie about [identity], and we felt very strongly the Lord saying, ‘This is what I want you to focus on. Remind my people who they are in the church; and remind other people where they should find their identity.’ So, I hope that it touches a lot of people,” Alex Kendrick said.
What Crosswalk wanted to know, though, was why 2019 was the year to make this film. Why is this such an important theme for our culture?
Priscilla Shirer, who plays the school’s principal Oliva Brooks, had some thoughts:
“We live in a culture that if we’re not careful and mindful about our own identity we’ll seek to define or reclassify or diminish the value of who we are... Our value has to be based on who God says we are and the inherent value we have because we are his. Because everything else is just changing and it’s variant… So, if our significance is tied to those external things, then we will not be able to flourish and function and have emotional stability--and just have joy and peace in life.
“The older I get,” Shirer continued, “the more I realize how critical it is that my identity is firmly rooted in who God says that I am because nobody can touch that.”
Jack Sterner, who plays Coach Harrison’s son Ethan, emphasizes how important a film like this is in the face of a social media driven world. “The thing about social media, is that I think it in a lot of ways breeds two different things: it breeds pride and arrogance...it can also breed insecurity... So, having a film that reminds people what is important, that our identity is in the one who created us, and our encouragement needs to come from that and not from how people are responding to our social media presence, is really really important.”
So, what would the Church universal look like if we believed in our hearts that we are who God says we are? How could that change the world?
“When they [people in the world] start seeing people who believe they’re Overcomers, it whets their appetite to want to have that same relationship with God. And that is what rolls out the red carpet for us to introduce them to Jesus,” Shirer declares.
You and your whole family can experience this life-changing movie on August 23 at a theater near you.
As a bonus, the cast shared some of their favorite scriptures that help their identities to stay rooted in Christ:
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
Photo Credit: Kendrick Brothers