For King and Country has taken their ministry to another level: they’re releasing the anti-human trafficking film, Priceless, on October 16. Here, Joel Smallbone plays James Stevens, a man who has lost himself in the downward spiral of his life. Driving a truck with a questionable cargo a la The Transporter, Stevens realizes that he’s part of the system driving two sisters into sex slavery. Now, he’s forced to make a decision: will he take the money and run, or will he stand up for something greater than himself?
While Caged No More turned a cinematic eye on human trafficking a year ago, Priceless makes the story seem even more personal by cutting out the majority of the supporting roles and focusing on Stevens. Yes, the two women who are being trafficked play a major role in what becomes Stevens’ redemptive arc, and, of course, there are the traffickers themselves. But the transformation of Stevens is key to the story, and that is what Chris Dowling (The Remaining, Where Hope Grows) and Tyler Poelle’s script focuses is on under Ben Smallbone’s (the third brother) direction.
We know that Stevens’ wife has died and that he blames himself; his daughter has been taken away from him and their relationship is the summation of sporadic phone calls and random visits. But his connection to his daughter is what ties the theological power of the film: Stevens is a father, the trafficked women are daughters, and God is the Father to all of them. While that might seem beyond obvious to faithful audiences, the way that it is worked into the storyline is significantly integrated to avoid preachy distractions.
While Antonia (Bianca A. Santos) is the first voice that breaks through the haze Stevens is in, David Koechner’s unlikely turn as Dale, a hotel manager, is mindblowing. For those who have seen him in comedies that carry little weight and power beyond throwaway entertaining, Koechner’s gentle shared wisdom throws Stevens a lifeline that gives him direction. Suddenly, with the opportunity to rescue someone else from a lost life, Smallbone’s lead goes from lost to savior. He just needed someone to show him the way.
Audiences will be amazed by the way that the story grips them without throwing us into the mire of films that normally cover this content. Yes, the film is PG-13, but the majority of the intensity is in the implication, not in what we actually see played out on screen. Honestly, at one scene, I was tempted to look away - even though I’ve seen many films that took the content much farther. This is a testimony to the way the film is written, acted, and directed - and a reminder to Hollywood that sometimes, less is more!
Smallbone’s performance is potentially just the tip of the iceberg. One has to wonder how much longer For King & Country will ‘just’ be a music group. Either way, the future is bright for the Smallbones, as they use their platform to make a difference in the world they see today.