FAITH OF OUR FATHERS – Review by Susan Granger
This evangelical, Christian-themed saga revolves around two strangers united in their efforts to learn more about their fathers on an impromptu road trip to Washington, D.C. to visit The Wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Boasting a Beatles-inspired name, John Paul George (Kevin Downes) is engaged to Cynthia (Candace Cameron Bure), who’s eagerly planning their upcoming nuptials. At her suggestion, he embarks on a quest to find Wayne, the son of the man his dad befriended in Vietnam back in 1969. Read on…
John discovers that Wayne (David A.R. White) lives in a dilapidated shack, warily guarding a stack of old letters from John’s dad. When John requests to read them, Wayne demands $500 for each.
Deeply religious, John’s dad (Sean McGowan) often quotes from the Bible – John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” But Wayne’s dad (Scott Whyte) is a cynic, irritating their serious Sergeant (Stephen Baldwin), who turns up later to answer the question of how both soldiers died.
While the inspirational concept is certainly admirable, writer/director Carey Scott, working with co-writer Harold Uhl, along with Kevin Downes and David A.R. White, heavy-handedly telegraphs every plot twist ahead-of-time, and the Vietnam flashbacks are so amateurish that they lack credibility.
John’s dad is seen scribbling these precious letters in pencil on tiny scraps of paper in the battlefield as rain pours down; but when John views them, they’re clearly written on what appears to be pristine notebook paper.
Since the characters are superficially stereotypical, it’s difficult for actors to be believable. And when you realize that combining the protagonists’ names turns out to be “John Wayne,” it lands like a thud, like the proclamation: “I have a heavenly father who loves me more than an earthly father ever could.”
If you’re searching for faith-based films, I recommend 2014’s “Calvary” and “Ida” – which take both devotion and film-making seriously.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Faith of Our Fathers” is a faltering 4, preaching to the choir.