post written by Esther Filbrun
Title: Overcomer (2019; PG)
Director: Alex Kendrick
Major Themes: Faith, Forgiveness, Identity, Running, Reunion
Categories: G > Fic >> Chr, Ins | HI > Mod >> 21st | LOC > NA >> US | R > PG
Synopsis: Challenged to coach a troubled girl in a sport he doesn’t know, John Harrison’s faith is put to the test.
Well, ever since watching War Room, I’ve been looking forward to watching the next movie the Kendrick brothers put out—and even though it’s been a few years since it was released, I finally got to watch Overcomer! This movie encouraged me, especially after my disappointment over War Room. That’s not to say that I wasn’t somewhat disappointed here, too—but we’ll get to that later.
Hannah is a smart young girl who loves running. And when coach John Harrison loses his basketball team one season, and is put in charge of coaching cross-country running, he’s sure there must have been a big mistake. Then, when only one girl—Hannah—shows up to try out for cross-country, life seems to be conspiring against him even more. How can anyone—even the principal—think he could train one person in a sport he doesn’t even know, to the level of being able to compete in the state finals? Especially when the one runner he does have is a girl who has asthma? Though he is fairly certain they have no chance at all, he decides to do his best. Then, he accidentally meets an older man in the hospital who has had experience with cross-country running. Will he be able to get any help from this gentleman? And what about the man’s own past, which seems to be catching up with him now?
Overcomer is a very sweet story, in many ways. It’s tough, and difficult, and somewhat sad—but there are also some beautiful portions to it. As someone who does not enjoy running, I found that side of things interesting—but even more so was the struggle portrayed here to do what was right, and to give God our best, even when we are sure our best will never measure up. The character growth in here was also very good.
Another thing I enjoyed: The storyline as a whole was much tighter than War Room. That one, to me, felt like it had the jump roping competition merely for interest’s sake and to stretch the movie out longer. It didn’t really seem to go along with the story as a whole. But in Overcomer, that side of things was well-done. Everything had something to do with everything else, and I appreciated that!
In saying all that, I felt like a few things were forced in this movie. The salvation scene came rather quickly, with very little build or lead-up to it; the gospel message was presented, and instantly accepted, and then in the next scene you see the newly saved person digging deeply into the Bible and saying, “I just want to study and read more!” That could be realistic for some people, and I was very grateful that a salvation message was presented here, but it also felt a bit sudden. Also, I noticed that a lot of the songs used here were some of the more popular Christian songs from the past few years. I could be wrong about that, since I don’t follow the Christian music industry that closely, but that’s how it seemed to me. I appreciate the messages, but it almost felt like song stuffing to make the movie more appealing. As I said, I could easily be wrong about that, but that’s how it seemed to me.
In all, I’m glad I got to watch Overcomer. It’s a good story. Though perhaps not quite the caliber of Courageous—that is my favorite of the Kendrick brothers’ movies, in composition, depth, plot-wise, etc.—it’s an encouraging movie, for old and young alike. Our family enjoyed watching it together—and laughing together over different parts!—and I wouldn’t be surprised if we watch it again some other time.
WARNING: Several times throughout the movie, and especially in the last 30 minutes or so, there are several scenes of people yelling in anger. My six-year-old sister found that hard to deal with, but I think it wouldn’t be a problem for most children—that’s just something she’s rarely encountered. Also, with the running side of things, there are a lot of scenes with girls dressed in tank tops and shorts.
Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults, Family Friendly
Keywords: Forgiveness, Identity, Running, Reunion, PG-Rated Movies, Movies, Christian Fiction, 21st Century History, North America, Faith, Inspirational Fiction