'Last Ounce of Courage' Reviews Mixed
Some critics say the compelling story of a grandson bonding with his grandfather gets lost in the production.
"Last Ounce of Courage" opens with a dramatic quote from President Ronald Reagan, calling for everyone to teach their children about American values and freedom. Thomas Revere getting married to his beloved just before he goes off to fight in Iraq. His father Bob is a decorated veteran and mayor. While Thomas fights for America, his son Chris is born. Soon thereafter, the officers show up at the Revere house to say that Thomas had died.
Years later, Chris and his mother come back to visit, but times have changed. The people can no longer celebrate Christmas in the high school or have Christmas decorations in the town. As Chris tries to connect with the memories of his father, first Bob and then the whole town become involved in trying to restore the celebration of Christmas. They are facing the wrath of the ACLU-like organization. Bob is thrown in jail and stripped of his political office. A young friend of Chris decides to turn the winter play into a Christmas play. Only a miracle can bring Christmas and real freedom back to this small mountain town.
From what reviewers are saying, this movie seems targeted for an Evangelical market who will be so focused on the message that they won't mind the amateurish acting or slipshod directing. The viewer's enjoyment seems linked to his or her politics. If you believe that prayers invoking the name of Jesus Christ and readings from the New Testament should be part of public school, you will probably like this movie. If not, then don't go.
Here's how "Last Ounce of Courage" is being received:
"The problem with this numbskull travesty isn’t that it’s fatuous and smug (which it is). It’s that it’s slack and dull. The storytelling is inept (that weird 14-year hiatus, for example), and any time Fred Williamson gives the most assured performance in a movie, that movie is in serious trouble. Worse than that, it trivializes the very issues it’s supposedly promoting. The Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest decoration this nation has to bestow on its military, gets casually tossed in as a minor plot device, and Bob’s idea of Christmas has about as much to do with the miracle of Jesus’s birth as his ideas about citizenship have to do with the Constitution."
"The problem is that the film is amateurish in production and … well … nearly everything else. This is a film that’s poorly acted to start with; it’s not like this is a cast culled from a Church following gussied up by a star or two likeCourageous or Fireproof. This is a cast populated with fairly veteran hands and it’s almost painful to watch at just how bad they are. This is community theatre level bad and it makes a film like The Room seem like an all star production by comparison."
"LAST OUNCE OF COURAGE ends on several positive notes that make it recommended viewing for everyone. The quality of acting by some of our favorite actors is superb, although some of the other acting is spotty. That said, Jennifer O’Neill, Fred Williamson, and Marshall Teague do a wonderful job. Many of them have participated in the MOVIEGUIDE® Awards. The movie elicits real tears and real conviction. It has a clear evangelistic, patriotic storyline. The real drama doesn’t start until about a third of the way into the story. Once the jeopardy and battle over Christmas kick in, however, the movie is captivating, even with the multiple endings and resolutions."
"To that point, Bob's onscreen approach is aggressive and confrontational. And to tell his story, the film employs melodrama and hyperbole as it links Christianity and patriotic themes—so much so that they overlap almost completely at times. (There's a scene near the end in which Christian walks onstage during the school play and plants an American flag near Jesus' manger.)
Sincere and conscientious Christians will reach different conclusions about what that kind of storytelling accomplishes, and how well it explores the relationship between our spiritual convictions and our political ones. But nobody will miss the point that we remove God from our public places at our peril."
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