In Theatres: 
Apr 17, 2019
Running Time: 
116 minutes

Faith-based films have continually been on the rise recently with hits like last year’s I Can Only Imagine soaring to a box office success. They may be a little preachy, yes, but they’re also heartfelt and inspirational stories at their core. Breakthrough is the latest Christian drama to hit the silver screen, and it’s a by-the-good-book faith based film that hardly does anything to differentiate itself from others within the genre.


Joyce Smith (Chrissy Metz) has always been strong in her faith, but when her son John (Marcel Ruiz) falls through the the ice while playing with friends on a frozen lake, it is put through the ultimate test. After being pulled from the ice cold water after over 10 minutes, John is declared dead at the hospital, but miraculously a pulse is found and he is brought back to life. He is by no means out of the woods yet, and while everyone else prepares for the worst, Joyce has a belief that he will pull through through the power of God.


Breakthrough is pretty standard as far as faith-based films go. This is Us’s Chrissy Metz delivers a heartwarming performance, but it’s nothing we haven’t before from the genre. The film follows the same beats where a person’s strong faith is put to the test due to a tragic incident. It has plenty of those overly dramatic moments that are meant to pull at your heartstrings but ultimately ends up coming across as too sappy. Furthermore, there are some just downright weird and awkward scenes. I’m no medical expert, but the entire rescue and recovery of John just felt strange, even by movie standards. It was a little too unbelievable, especially given how everyone handled the situation.


There’s also a scene towards the end of the film where John’s teacher asks him at the end of class one day why he survived when her husband died and his thoughts on how God chooses when someone’s time is up. It’s heavy question for anyone, especially a teenager who just survived death, and it’s randomly dropped at the end of the film. The whole scene feels so awkward and out of place.


Breakthrough may do well with its intended faith-based audiences thanks to a solid cast, but outside of them I don’t see the film going anywhere. It knows exactly the kind of film it is and doesn’t stray too far from that path.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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