REVIEW: ‘God Bless the Broken Road’ has a solid message about military families
The faith-based ‘God Bless the Broken Road’ (PG) opens in theaters this weekend, telling the story of a widow who is struggling to cope with life after her husband is killed in combat.
Amber Hill is a depressed, single mom who has no time for church. Honestly, though, she doesn’t want to go, anyway.
Two years ago, she was a joy-filled Christian at her small church, where she played the guitar, led the choir and spread smiles wherever she went. Her demeanor changed when her husband, a member of the U.S. military, was killed in Afghanistan. She hasn’t been the same person since.
Amber still has a Bible on her nightstand, but she doesn’t read it. She also doesn’t sing or smile, either. Instead, she goes through the motions of raising a young daughter while juggling her job at the local diner.
When her friends try to lift her spirits, she rejects them.
“I tried putting my faith in God,” she tells them. “Look where it got me.”
And now she’s being threatened with eviction from her home – the very home where she built so many wonderful memories with her husband.
What will it take for Amber to rediscover her faith in God?
The faith-based God Bless the Broken Road (PG) opens in theaters this weekend, telling the story of a widow who is struggling to cope with life until she reaches rock bottom and finally accepts the help of others. Along the way, she also meets the new man in town – a race car driver – who provides a spark of joy to her and her daughter.
It stars Lindsay Pulsipher (Hatfields & McCoys, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) as Amber; Andrew W. Walker (Snowed-Inn Christmas) as her romantic interest, Cody; singer Jordin Sparks as her friend, Bridgette; Robin Givens (God’s Not Dead 2) as her friend, Karena; Madeline Carroll (I Can Only Imagine) as her daughter’s teacher; and former NFL star LaDainian Tomlinson as her pastor. It was directed by Harold Cronk, who also directed the first two God’s Not Dead films.
The movie serves as a tribute to veterans while combining elements popular among a conservative audience: faith, stock car racing (Cody is a NASCAR driver sent down to the minor leagues) and country music (the movie is based on the popular song by the same name).
Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!
(Scale key: none, minimal, moderate, extreme)
Minimal. We see a recreated battle scene. We see someone shot and killed. A car race ends with a crash.
Other Positive Elements
The Gospel is at the core of the movie, from the opening scenes to the final moments when Amber – who had been avoiding details of her husband’s death – learns how he died in combat. We also see Amber’s pastor deliver a sermon on rescuing those who have strayed from the church.
Other Stuff You Might Want To Know
A child runs away from home.
God Bless the Broken Road provides positive messages on reaching out to people who are hurting, coping with tragedy and honoring veterans.
There are at least three faith-based movies about veterans releasing this fall, but God Bless the Broken Road is the only one that spotlights the death of a military member and its aftereffects. It can be difficult to watch. Amber’s daughter, Bree, wants her mom to bounce back to her cheerful self, but she finds it impossible to do. So she lays in bed each morning, staring at the ceiling.
Scripture is filled with passages commanding us to put the interests of others ahead of our own interests (Phil. 2:3, Matt. 20:26-27, John 15:12-14). The film reminds us to reach out to the brokenhearted. The film also does a nice job paying tribute to those who are willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice and put their life on the line each day in military service.
LaDainian Tomlinson, an NFL Hall of Famer who played college football at TCU and is outspoken about his faith, said he was thinking about members of his family who are in the military while playing the role. He wants the film to encourage military families.
“I kept that in mind when I was doing this film – just how much of an impact it will have for my family members, my friends, that are in that same situation (as Amber). Even if they don’t die and even if they do come back, they’re still away from their family for a long time,” he said. “And that’s a struggle for many wives and children to have their father or mother away, serving our country.”
The movie’s portrayal of Amber’s struggles seems authentic. The car race scenes, too, are well-done. The movie’s military message will be particularly touching for moviegoers with military ties.
Some of the spiritual dialogue falls flat and doesn’t seem genuine.
- How many people were responsible for rescuing Amber? What can that teach us about reaching others who are coping with tragedy?
- What would you have told Amber? Would you have said what her friends told her?
- Name some ways the church can help those who are struggling financially.
- Name some ways the church can encourage military spouses and families.
Entertainment rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Rated PG for thematic elements and some combat action.