'Faith of Our Fathers': Film Review
Two disparate strangers attempt to uncover the circumstances behind their fathers' deaths in the Vietnam War in this faith-based film.
It takes faith to believe that a faith-based movie of real quality will eventually come along. Unfortunately, the wait isn't over. The latest effort from the independent studio responsible for such films as Do You Believe? and the surprise hit God's Not Dead once again demonstrates that good intentions don't necessarily result in compelling cinema. The tale of two men who embark on a road trip to find answers about their fathers who died decades earlier in the Vietnam War, Faith of Our Fathers, is undone by its wobbly tone, hokey script and amateurish execution.
Set in the late 1990's, the story begins with soon-to-be-married John Paul George (Kevin Downes) — one of the more tired running gags involves everyone he meets wondering about his Beatles-inspired, three first names — discovering a box of letters that his father sent home during the war. Learning about a fellow soldier who his father had befriended, John tracks down his son in Mississippi.
Despite the protestations of his fiancée (Candace Cameron Bure), John impulsively sets on a cross-country trip to meet Wayne (David A.R. White), who on the phone showed no interest in a face-to-face. He's even surlier when John shows up on the doorstep of his dilapidated shack, but eventually agrees to share his own father's letters, for a mere $500 each.
For reasons not satisfactorily explained, the two men then embark on a road trip to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. Many less-than-comical hijinks ensue along the way, including their car being stolen by a pair of Aussie hitchhikers (one played by Christian singer Rebecca St. James) and getting thrown into jail after purchasing a car that turns out to have been stolen.
They eventually meet up with their fathers' former sergeant (born-again actor Stephen Baldwin), who answers the question of how their fathers died.
Flashbacks set during the war reveal that John's father was a devout Christian who proselytized to his fellow soldiers, including Wayne's father who was a non-believer, attitudes that are mirrored by their sons.
There is too great a stylistic discrepancy between the war scenes (intended to be harrowing, but instead woefully amateurish) and the wacky road trip for either to be effective. The lead performances are unconvincing as well, with Downes displaying little more than a hangdog expression and White seemingly channeling late-period Nick Nolte as they slog through, although the contrived script (written by both actors along with director Carey Scott and Harold Uhl) does them no favors. The silliest moment comes via a cameo by Duck Dynasty star Si Robertson, not exactly playing against type.
As is usual with these sorts of films, the Christian themes are layered on thickly. Nothing wrong with that, but in this case the fault lies not with the message but with the messenger.
Production: Downes Brothers, Pure Flix
Cast: Kevin Downes, David A.R. White, Stephen Baldwin, Candace Cameron Bure, Rebecca St. James, Sean McGowan, Scott Whyte, Ryan Doom
Director: Carey Scott
Screenwriters: Kevin Downes, Carey Scott, Harold Uhl, David A.R. White
Producers: Shelene Bryan, Bobby Downes, Kevin Downes, Michael Scott
Executive producers: Bill Herren, Kevin Malone, Christopher Morrow
Director of photography: Randall Gregg
Production designer: Mona Nahm
Editors: Matt Cassell, David de Vos, Alex Kendrick
Costume designer: Briana Jorgensen
Composers: Marc Fantini, Steffan Fantini
Casting: Beverly Holloway
Rated PG-13, 96 minutes