The title, King’s Faith, is fitting for the theme of this film, even if it doesn’t tell us much about the plot. The DVD cover doesn’t help much on that front either. It’s too bad too, because tucked away behind the generic name and vanilla cover is a gem of a story about what it means to walk in faith, not just have it.
The story opens as Brendan King (Crawford Wilson) arrives at his eighteenth foster home in hopes of a new life. Having just found faith in prison, this is presumably his first real attempt at reform. He enters the home of Mike (James McDaniel) and Vanessa (Lynn Whitfield), whose son died two years earlier. While Mike is ready to move on, Vanessa still harbors bitterness over the loss. Brendan begins to settle in at school and with his new family, but trouble brews when his old gang “family” shows up looking for a cooler full of buried drugs from the old days.
Though the acting is hit or miss (with the seasoned actors doing the best jobs), the script is solid and sometimes truly fantastic. Two things in particular stood out to me as I watched the film. First, the bad guys take action and create real challenges. Rather than standing around making idle threats, they apply pressure in ways that alter the plot. We love it when our heroes have to fight for their goals because we know deep down that nothing comes easy in real life. Second, the character Mike (James McDaniel) speaks the truth in ways that we long to hear. So often in movies these days, truth is sugar-coated by pop psychology, drowned out by western rationalism and political correctness, or ignored completely in order to drag the plot out a little longer. So, we end up with watered-down dialogue that doesn’t pack a punch. Mike shoots it straight, cutting through the outer layers of each character he confronts and speaking the truth that their souls need to hear. To the film’s credit, the timing and dialogue are perfect each time he does it so that the story avoids being a hokey procession of “advice” scenes.
After the film ended, one more thought lingered in my mind…the theme. King’s Faith deals with the struggle between waiting on God to work things out and taking action based on our own understanding. In perhaps one of the best dialogue “fights” of any Christian film I’ve seen, Mike and Brendan hash through the physical and spiritual realities of Brendan's next move. When talking sense into the boy fails, Mike tries quoting Scripture. This is such an honest example of how we think (logical advice first, quoting Scripture second), that I didn’t balk for a moment at the inclusion of Bible verses in the scene. Verse quoting seems most awkward when it’s the first thing a character says, but the creators of King’s Faith have figured out the key to making it real. Better yet, the next move Brendan makes is the most logical and realistic for the character.
This film was refreshingly honest about our human struggle with wanting to take control of life. Though occasional scenes throughout the film felt contrived, the majority of the movie handled the story very well. I definitely look forward to seeing more movies by these filmmakers.