The Australian band for King and Country has taken on human trafficking in their film debut, Priceless. Using the story of James Stevens (Joel Smallbone, one of two Smallbone brothers in the band) as an amalgamation of real-life stories about sex trafficking and rescue, Priceless tells the story of how one man’s redemption leads to rescue for others. Available now on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, and Digital on Demand, the film will entertain and challenge audiences to take a stand against evil in their own lives and the lives of others.
Stevens is a broken, anchorless man when he first appears. He’s taking on questionable jobs just to pay the bills, while blaming himself for the destruction of his own family and the death of his wife. Stevens’ role as absentee father ties in strongly with his realization that he is engaged in trafficking women, two sisters, into slavery as prostitutes.
In the Priceless script by Chris Dowling and Tyler Poelle, Stevens is down but not unredeemable, a message highlighted by the band’s song of the same name. This heart - to show people that redemption is possible and that human life is priceless - plays out in the drama on screen and in the bonus features that appear in the special features.
But while there’s a Taken-like action feel to the drama, there is plenty of character development, highlighting a better film by Ben Smallbone (the third brother) than one might find elsewhere. In fact, the plot engages the audience more fully than many of the human trafficking films appearing in theaters and on demand thanks to the heartfelt way that the characters take shape.
Antonia (Bianca A. Santos) is the sister that Stevens ‘connects’ with, recognizing in her the humanity that he still yearns for in his own fallen way. She is the person who brings grace into Stevens’ life, reminding him of the man and father he wants to be. But she is not the only change agent in his life, thanks to a surprising role by comedian David Koechner, as the hotel manager Dale who wants to take down the human trafficking ring. These two (plus Stevens’ daughter in a way) serve as the reminders of God’s grace that Stevens needs to turn his life around.
A blend of dialogue and action, Priceless is a PG-13 thriller, thanks to mature thematic elements featuring human trafficking and some violence. But it’s a valuable alternative to other thrillers in its genre thanks to a Christian worldview, a solid explanation of human transformation, and the efficiency of grace to change a life.