Cast: Chrissy Metz, Josh Lucas, Marcel Ruiz, Topher Grace
Director: Roxann Dawson
Ok, let’s get this over with. Ever since I saw the first trailer for this movie, I knew it would be a movie I ended up hating. I knew it would pander to God-fearing Christians, include despicable acting and writing, and be an absolute chore to get through if you aren’t apart of the targeted audience. Suprise suprise, this movie was that almost to an unprecedented degree. Metz’s character is completely unlikable, the concept invites no one who is undecided about religion, and the story is about as predictable and bland as one can imagine.
The film follows Joyce Smith (Metz), a devout Christian mother of her adoptive son John (Ruiz). Joyce is struggling with the fact that John is growing up and is starting to defy her and reject her love. When John falls through some ice playing on a frozen lake, he spends multiple minutes underwater and is rescued in a dire state. Through Joyce’s faith in God, John survives the initial fall, but has a long road ahead of him if he wants to make it out of the hospital alive. I’m used to watching religious filled with poorly written leads and bad acting to match, but I have to say, Breakthrough is a contender for some of the worst of those categories I’ve ever seen. Joyce is quite possibly one of the least likable characters in a movie I’ve seen this year. I understand a mother in complete distress after almost losing her only child and fighting for him to stay alive, but she takes her emotional state to another extreme. The main premise of her character is that she doesn’t want medicine for her son, she wants magic. She constantly snaps at doctors who give her potentially bad news as they describe John’s situation and refuses to accept any outcome other than John’s survival since that’s what her faith will provide for her. It does a true disservice to those who work in science and medicine as a movie like this will reinforce the idea that we don’t need to advance society because God will watch over us and take care of us. I may be a bad person for this, but at multiple points during the movie I was rooting for John to die just so Joyce didn’t get the smug satisfaction of her beliefs being stronger than medicine. The fact that Pastor Jason (Grace) reinforces this viewpoint because it aligns with his religious beliefs is sickening and borderline manipulative. It’s a shame that Grace got involved in a movie like this, because I’ve been a fan of his for a long time and really enjoy his performances in movies like BlacKkKlansman, but everyone has a dud now and then and apparently this is Grace’s. The only saving grace of this movie is Lucas’s performance as Brian, Joyce’s husband and John’s father. He’s the only character that embraces the reality of this situation and shows emotional range to depict a grieving parent in an unfortunate circumstance. He accepts that no amount of belief is going to change Josh’s situation and that Josh very likely could die in the care of these doctors. But because this movie caters to the ignorant and borderline despicable, Brian is seen more as an antagonist or an obstacle to Josh’s recovery when he’s really just preparing for the worst. It makes sense in a way though, as the people who this movie is aimed at are people more likely to drink bleach to cure autism, so needless to say I’m not surprised with the direction of the film.
Overall, I see Breakthrough being played at weekly Bible studies all around the country when it comes out on DVD. A testament of faith at its best and a propaganda piece at its worst, Breakthrough knows its audience and how to get a message across that valuable exclusively to them. As someone not in that audience, this film has no appeal to me and was a 116 minute chore that I truly regret watching.
Overall Score: 3/10