Starring: Priscilla Shirer, Karen Abercrombie
Directed By: Alex Kendrick
Written By: Alex Kendrick, Stephen Kendrick
Running Time: 2 Hours
Rated PG for Thematic Elements Throughout
Plot: With her marriage on the brink of collapse, a real estate agent receives advice and support from an elderly client.
LANCE’S TAKE: EXODUS
You’ve heard the saying, “practice makes perfect.”
You would think that holds true in all things, whether it be playing sports, learning an instrument, or in this case, making movies.
War Room is the fifth feature film that the Kendrick brothers, Alex and Stephen, have produced. As far as shooting and editing go (and to an extent, the acting), these guys have come a very long way since their debut film, Flywheel.
However, their methods of storytelling – which are packed to the gills with Scripture quotes, preaching to the choir, lame jokes, flat characters, and predictability – have not changed. In fact, I’d say they’ve gotten worse in that department, especially in this film.
War Room starts off as an in-your-face sermon and it doesn’t stop preaching at you until the closing credits roll. It’s basically a remake of Fireproof, only instead of a firefighter who’s having problems with his wife, the story is about a female real estate agent who’s marriage is on the rocks, and instead of using a Love Dare for guidance, she goes into a closet to pray for her relationship. And, a lively old woman who’s selling her house is there for support, but she mostly speaks sentences that include the words God, Jesus, prayer, devil, or some form of Biblical passage or corny joke.
Now, I’ll admit, the thought behind War Room is extremely noble. There are countless marriages out there that could definitely benefit from having a “war room” for prayer somewhere in the home. And, I know that thousands of couples saw this movie, cleaned out their closets, and started praying for stronger, healthier relationships.
That’s awesome. And I hope, for the sake of them and their families, that it worked out well for them.
But, here’s my main problem: just like all the other movies the Kendrick brothers have produced (and the same holds true for Christian films in general), War Room makes it seem as if God is here to answer our prayers just the way we want, when we want, as long as our requests are sincere and heartfelt.
Anytime a Christian character faces an issue in this movie, all they have to do is pray or tell the problem to go away in Jesus’ name, and everything is fixed right away.
Now, if you ask any Christian if all of their prayers or cries to the Divine are answered instantly and just how they’d hoped, they’re going to tell you no without any hesitation. More often than not, we have to wait patiently for God to respond, and we don’t always like what His solutions are, even if they help us to grow spiritually and emotionally.
But, that’s not how War Room presents the prayer life of a believer. And as a result, if anyone watching this movie is new in their walk with Christ, or if they’re thinking about getting saved, they may get a false impression of how prayer works. I’m willing to bet there were numerous couples who got discouraged after praying for weeks after seeing this film, because they got a false hope that their marriages would be dramatically improved right away. When this didn’t happen, they may have given up, thinking, “So, we threw all of our stuff out of this closet for nothing?”
That’s the big problem. Now, onto the smaller ones.
Although the acting is decent for the most part, some of the scenes still play out like they were shot for an after school special. The standout performance is from Karen Abercrombie, who plays the elderly woman who wants to help the main character save her marriage.
The jump rope competition near the end of the movie was full of impressive acts, but it went on for way too long. Even if it had been cut in half, it still would have been lengthy.
During War Room’s initial run in theaters, there were ads that marketed the movie online, posing the question, “Is this the best Christian movie ever?” Many Christians answered with a resounding “yes,” but I disagree wholeheartedly. There are many other faith-based films out there that are much more powerful than this, and they don’t involve a woman cleaning out her closet (think of the beating and crucifixion of Jesus in The Passion of the Christ).
War Room gets a massive “Exodus” from me.
MARY’S TAKE: PURGATORY
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for some time, you’ve probably heard of the movie War Room. You’ve no doubt heard the praise of this film from a majority of churchgoers. But, even though I go to church, you won’t find me singing its praises.
Now to be fair, it’s not a bad movie. I’m actually giving it a low “Purgatory” rating. And it definitely has a very important message. It’s trying to teach people to fight life’s battles the right way… on their knees.
Putting the message aside (because, after all, if you only wanted a good message, you could probably get that from a trip to church on Sunday), War Room is a pretty mediocre movie.
For the most part, the acting is well done, but there’s a decent amount of overdramatizing. I think I would prefer bad acting to the overdramatizing of a scene. When it happens, I find myself rolling my eyes and wanting to watch something else. That happened quite a few times during War Room.
While the script has some humorous aspects, it tries too hard to be funny. I’ll admit I chuckled a few times. But, when certain actions and dialogue are solely there to make you laugh and lend nothing to the story being told, they need to be rethought, especially when these jokes are repeated throughout the movie. I may laugh along the first time, but by the third or fourth instance, I’m just getting annoyed.
Yet, I think my biggest complaint about War Room is a gripe you’ve heard from me about plenty of other faith-based films. I like to call it the “genie in a bottle” message. God is not a genie in a bottle, and even though He most certainly answers prayers, He does not answer them on our timetable.
If you’ve ever tried living a Christian life, at one time or another you’ve most likely asked why something didn’t happen that you had prayed for, or why something did happen that you had asked God to stop. It happens to everyone.
And the reason is simple, even if it’s not apparent at the time: God has a bigger plan than we do. He knows what is best for us, and when it needs to take place. So, to make a movie that gives the illusion of a genie-like God that answers our prayers on demand is kind of unbelievable and irresponsible. I just hope that no one watches this film and then begins to doubt God because of an unanswered prayer.
To quote Garth Brooks, some of God’s biggest gifts are unanswered prayers.
How would you rate this film?