Adrenaline (Simpkins, 2015)

 

Adrenaline (★★½) was pretty much the sort of movie I was thinking of last year when I wrote the mini-essay, “Are Christian Films Judged By a Double Standard?

If you are not already predisposed to like Christian movies, nothing here will change your mind. That said, every class of films, even in genres you don’t like, have better or worse examples. In terms of writing, acting, and production values, Adrenaline is closer to a television movie than a feature-film, but–and this is meant as a hard earned compliment, not a back-handed one–a competent television movie.

The film’s protagonist is Joseph Jenkins, a young racer who is paralyzed from the waist down as the result of an accident. (The accident itself looked like it might have been animation or shot with a scale model, because the car flips way too many times, but it is still encouraging to see Christian productions dabbling in special effects for key scenes.) In the hospital he is befriended by a physical therapist (young, gorgeous, and female, of course) and another patient (old, African-American, and spiritually Yodaish, of course).

While his new friend, Elijah, tends to Joseph’s wounded soul, Paul Sharpe (John Schneider) helps him get back in the car and start competing again. Will Joseph win the big competition that ends all sports movies? More importantly, will he learn and acknowledge that there is more to life than winning? (Spoiler alert: um, yep.)

Despite the formulaic nature of the enterprise, I have to admit that Adrenaline is the kind of Christian movie I can tolerate at lot more easily than the War Room‘s or God’s Not Dead‘s of the world. It knows what it is, and rather than trying to remake the entire industry in one sweeping shot of brilliance, it is content to modestly tell a story that it thinks will appeal to its target audience. (And it is right.) So many Christian movies try to hit a seven run home run with nobody on base. Almost nobody wants to lay down a bunt and hustle out a single any more.

The three male leads, John Schneider (Paul), Michael Rosander (Joseph), and Gregory Alan Williams (Elijah) are all blessedly low-key. Of the trio Williams has the hardest job since Elijah is a wee bit idealized. Still, he, like Schneider, has a fair number of films and television work on his resume, and Adrenaline shows that whatever other challenges Christian films face, getting experienced Hollywood talent to show up when the bell rings is not one of them.

 

 

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