If there is one genre that always gets the toughest treatment in Hollywood, it is faith-based films and here we have one that flew so far under the radar, it’s a bit of a miracle that it got a wide release. If you want to understand the kind of opposition that films which promote Christianity deals with from the media, look no further The Wrap’s review which criticizes this film on the basis that the writer can’t stand…well, on-screen Christians.
Carlos Aguilar writes:
“Still, unlike the abomination that the “God’s Not Dead” franchise has become, which condemns and tacitly wishes death upon those who don’t share in its beliefs, “Run the Race” doesn’t come off as mean-spirited, and that is absolutely deliberate.
Though ranging in level of commitment, every character on screen is a churchgoing person or lives an acceptable lifestyle. No real opposition is presented. However, if you were to ask these characters what their thoughts are on, say, undocumented immigrants, police brutality, or the LGBTQ+ community, then the conversations might get dicey. But since the writers, all straight white men (Dowling, plus Jake McEntire and Jason Baumgardner), refrain from even mentioning those targets for right-wing ire, conflict is conveniently avoided.
He then concludes,
The intersection of football, patriotism (plenty of flags here), and the visibility Dowling’s movie gives Trump-voting, detached white Americans is nearly a perfect plan, even more so when it’s not packaged like second-rate direct-to-video fare.
It’s easy to see why Christian movies never get good scores on Rotten Tomatoes because you can almost taste the resentment that reviewers like Aguilar have for Christians, especially those East of New Mexico who didn’t vote for Bernie Sanders. Living in the Southern California area most of my life, it’s kinda amazing how a town that tolerates high suicide rates and drug-filled sex romps gone bad rationalizes itself to believe that somehow the worse thing you can be is a bible thumper, but I digress.
Let’s talk about the movie, what we have here is a faith-based film produced by former NCAA championship quarterback Tim Tebow, who took a lot of heat in his playing days for being an outspoken Christian. Now he is putting his name on a film Run The Race which is a story about two high school brothers who are looking to escape the small Alabama town they live in shortly after their mother’s death. When their father abandons them, older brother Zach Truett (Tanner Stine) sees his football career and a scholarship to the University of Florida (you aren’t slick Tebow) as his way out of a dead-end town. However, things in his life get more complicated after a series of unfortunate events tests his emotional state and his body. Desperate for change, Zach must set his love life, his family, and his career right while he still has a chance.
Run The Race is a bit of a downer for most causal audiences so don’t go in expecting an upbeat movie because you will be disappointed. The story is non-conventional but very focused on redemption and loss. When it comes to faith, the two most difficult challenges in a person’s life is forgiveness and the sudden loss of a loved one. While the film handles the comeback story well, there is a serious ball drop with the ending as the closing act clashes with the story being told to that point. Fortunately, along with some beautiful cinematography, Run The Race is set apart by the strong performance of its lead actors Evan Hofer and Tanner Stine. The veteran cast puts the movie on the better side of the filmmaking quality when it comes to the Christian genre but Stine and Hofer sell the story as two small-town teens you root for until the very end.
Overall, the positives outweigh the negatives but the ending is probably going to be divisive to say the least. However, Run The Race is still one of the better Friday Night Lights style films you’ll see this year.