12 August 2017
The world of Christian films has a standard recipe – a lead character from the wrong side of the tracks falls into conflict, and during rehabilitation comes to faith and changes the community.
It’s a formula that sells straight to DVD movies to the Christian market, but receives little traction in the secular realm.
In fact, general consensus among millennials is that these “Christian” films appear so cliché, it feels hardly worth your time to view them, despite the overt Christian values they communicate.
Then there’s King’s Faith, which, despite getting off to a slow start, eloquently communicates the reality of God’s ongoing transformative work in his followers and the power of second chances.
Instead of entering via the classic Christian formula, we are introduced to 18-year-old Brendan King (Crawford Wilson) when the reformed criminal, drug dealer and gang member wants a fresh start with his new-found faith.
After spending three years in a juvenile penitentiary, Brendan is welcomed into foster home number 18 by a faith-filled couple. Living close to the city where his original transgressions took place, he is constantly battling his former habits. And like spiritual welfare, the fear of falling back to this is never far, especially when his old gang Avenue D, begin to threaten his new family and friends.
As Brendan’s faith develops, he joins a religious club at school called “The Seekers” – which, despite its cliché name, introduces him to the concept of community initiatives and he gains the courage to reform his old neighbourhood.
Films seeking to present the Christian message often fall into the trap of using religious clichés and patterns, and the beginning of King’s Faith is the same. The Christians appear one-dimensional, the protagonist seems blasé and shows little emotion, and it all feels a little contrived. However, when Brendan saves the most popular girl at school, Natalie (Kayla Compton), from a car wreck, the superficial makes way for a deeper, more compelling storyline and better acting.
John 15:13 tells us that “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”, and we see this lived out in the character of Brendan, who must decide if he is willing to sacrifice himself for the safety of his loved ones, keep his faith, and extend grace to the people who want him to return to his old life.
King’s Faith isn’t always easy to watch. Despite cleverly avoiding dramatised violence for most of the film, the heaviness of topics, which include death, abortion, Christian couple-relationships, broken families, drug abuse and gang culture are unsettling, despite their importance.
But perhaps that is what makes King’s Faith a gem. While not perfect, it is a realistic depiction of the spiritual battle we face every day. And though it is heavy, it carries the message that Brendan clearly communicates at the end of the film: “If you stand firm in your faith, anything’s possible.” And this includes victory over the habits, entanglements and sins that bind us to life before salvation.
Put simply, King’s Faith is a reminder that we need to keep the faith, and only through this will we experience the true victory found in Christ.
King’s Faith is PG-13 (violence, some drug content and thematic elements) and is streaming on Netflix now. It is available at Koorong for $10.