If that’s the part of the story you’re focusing on, you’re missing the point. Don’t you see the beauty of what happened? When we forgave, God used it for good.--Logan Evans
Directed by Judd Brannon (War Room), Champion tells the story of two men whose lives collide thanks to a tragic dirt racing accident. A film developed thanks to a partnership with First Baptist Church of Woodstock, GA, the film shows how race car driver Sean Weathers (Andrew Cheney, Beyond the Mask, The Fourth World) and businessman Jack Reed (Gary Graham) must come to grips with their past and embrace forgiveness to move forward.
Set in and around the Dixie Speedway (where First Baptist’s lead pastor has been chaplain for twenty-five years), the film is a sports movie that is more than just about sports. While the collision on the dirt track between Weathers and Reed’s son, Ray, sets the two of them on a different trajectory than they ever imagined, the people around them are just as important to the development of the story.
In both racing teams, the crew chiefs, Robert Amaya’s (Courageous, Mom’s Night Out) Rex and Cameron Arnett’s (Meet the Browns) Logan Evans, both try to inject their faith in Jesus Christ with the men struggling with the tragedy that they find themselves exploring. And then there’s the captivating Faith Renee Kennedy, who plays Weathers’ Gracie, a little girl thrown around by her father’s poor decision-making.
While both Weathers and Reed must forgive themselves, there’s plenty of work that must go into the recovery project. Weathers is physically, emotionally, and mentally banged up; he also loses custody of Gracie, and has to prove worthy of being her father. We recognize that his own childhood, where his father handed out infrequent beer bottle caps like medals of honor, set him up to fail as a father. While he struggles to figure out how to be a father, Gracie finds herself fostered by a family who places faith and family above other values.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.--Ephesians 4:32
As Evans introduces Weathers to Reed, encouraging them to forgive as they work on remodeling a house, we see that the rebuilding of physical things is a faint reflection of the ways that souls are rebuilt. Clutter must be removed, new materials need to be introduced, structure must be focused on before the superficial, decorative pieces. Racing, business, those things are temporary and fleeting, compared to the life-long relationships between father and daughter, and the eternal relationship one can have with Jesus Christ.
Cheney does his typical, solid job, with Graham’s depth showing in the way he must develop over the course of the film. Arnett’s role would be the most powerful - if not for Kennedy’s star turn. Together, they share a story that is entertaining and thought-provoking, simple in its message, yet powerfully constructed. In the end, that’s a winning formula.
Champion drives home the power of forgiveness, and shows us that some wins are worth more than others.