“Breakthrough” fills your heart up with a massive amount of love, brings tears to your eyes and encourages you to believe that there is a community of support out there for you—even when it appears as though there is not.
The new faith-based flick has some strong crossover appeal to general audiences who simply want to watch an inspirational story. It boasts a powerful cast and does not hit its audience too heavily over the head with messages, instead allowing them to come to their own conclusions—and even posing a few late-in-the-game questions that remain unresolved.
Marcel Ruiz plays a teenager who continues to struggle with the idea that he was not wanted by his birth mother. When he falls through an icy Missouri lake, all hope seems lost. As John lies lifeless, his adopted mother Joyce (Chrissy Metz) refuses to give up and she prays her son back to life.
However, he is not out of the woods yet as his chances for survival are slim and his chances of a full recovery are even slimmer. Joyce’s steadfast belief inspires those around her to continue to pray for her son—even in the face of every case history and scientific prediction.
“Breakthrough” was adapted for the screen from Joyce’s book of the same title, which was based on a true story. It also stars Josh Lucas, Topher Grace, Mike Colter and Dennis Haysbert. Granted, this review has some spoilers in it but the film heavily boasts in its marketing the official statement listed in its medical record: Patient died. Mother prayed. Patient came back to life.
Moreover, spiritual movies like “Breakthrough” are far less about the destination than they are the journey. Here, it is about the community that comes together to support this boy and his mother. One of the film’s final scenes set in church reflect this theme incredibly well and brought this reviewer to tears.
“Breakthrough” does still suffer from some of the faith-based genre’s trappings, particularly as it spends too much time preaching to the choir during its second act. Metz, who has been made a star by NBC’s tearjerker “This is Us,” gives a grand performance but there are too many unnecessarily lengthy conversations between her and other characters about belief and spirituality.
The movie also fails to properly introduce us to all of the people in John’s life, leading to a stilted hug that he shares with a female classmate. The scene, therefore, falls short of its potential emotional capacity. Yet “Breakthrough” still manages to extract plenty of emotion from its audience.
Moreover, it also leaves moviegoers with something to think about by posing a couple of questions during its final act that it never answers. These questions open the door to discussions with your family and friends after the film—discussions that are ripe with spiritual concepts. As a result, it is impossible to walk away from a showing of “Breakthrough” without both your heart touched and your brain stimulated.