Sooner or later, every man realizes there’s a void deep down inside their soul. There’s nothing in this world that can fill it.-- Faith of Our Fathers
The latest film from Pure Flix, Faith of Our Fathers is the story of two timelines and the way they intersect through handwritten letters. But unlike other stories that hinge around that motif, this is a story for men, for husbands, for fathers, and for sons. This is the story of Vietnam, of absentee fathers, and sons who must find their own way through life and faith.
John Paul George (Kevin Downes) is driven, just weeks before his wedding, to find out whatever he can about his father, who died in the Vietnam War. His quest leads him to Wayne (David A.R. White), the son of one of his father’s fellow soldiers. The two men could not be more opposite: John Paul is the wiser of the two, but still aimless and adrift, while Wayne is headstrong, impetuous, and aggressive. Their meeting is explosive – and hilarious. What would be just a dramatic story of learning and transformation quickly becomes a comedic, odd couple narrative as well, broadening the way that the audience sees the film.
The two sons decide that they should journey together to find out more about the fathers who they never knew. John Paul genuinely wants to know more, while Wayne is happy to ransom their fathers’ letters to Wayne, one by one, in exchange for financial support. Neither of them can quite explain the power that the contents of the letters have on them, and neither one knows just what is coming as they read them aloud, on the way to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Along the way, John Paul and Wayne encounter serious troubles, from a car-napping to arrest, from emotional struggles to accidental mishaps. There’s a careful blend of humor and heartfelt drama running through the film thanks to the writing of Carey Scott and Downes. It’s laugh out loud funny, but it has a bite to it, too, mostly due to the inner anger that Wayne carries on the outside. We may know intellectually that sons and daughters need fathers and mothers, but Faith of Our Fathershighlights the damage that occurs when a son or daughter is left to fend for themselves.
Ultimately, the time frames bounce back and forth between the present day lives of these two men and the lives of their fathers in the jungles of Vietnam. We see the wrestling match between John Paul’s faithful father and Wayne’s skeptical one, and the way that their foxhole struggles accelerate their conversation about God’s love for them both. It precipitates some conversations between the two present day sons along the way, but nothing like what will happen as they confront the past. Thanks to an unexpected collision with a connection to their fathers, the sons find themselves facing eternity.
In a film that celebrates the sacrifice of the men and women who have served the United States by living and dying in uniform, there is a definitive strain of faith that asks us to consider whether or not we know that we’re loved by the God of the universe. Reverend William T. Cummings said in Bataan, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” What Faith of Our Fathersdoes beautifully is to show that not all foxholes are on the battlefields of war. Many of them are in our homes, in our communities, in our schools, and in our places of work. But we need to recognize that God is present in the midst of all of those holes, and God is calling us to a loving relationship, built on repentance and forgiveness.
Head to the theater and check out this action dramedy. It will increase your appreciation for those who protect our freedom, and ask you to consider whether you are committed to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with those in foxholes all around you.
"But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law." - Galatians 5:22-23
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