Movie Review: ‘War Room’

Life is a struggle – a constant fight to do the right thing. “War Room,” the newest production by the Kendrick Brothers (creators of Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous), shows this struggle and the key to overcoming it – prayer.

The movie follows the life of wife and mother Elizabeth Jordan (Priscilla Shirer) as she attempts to rekindle the relationship with her husband Tony (T.C. Stallings).

After Elizabeth’s newest client, Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie), suggests Jordan bring her concerns to God in prayer, Elizabeth attempts to repair her damaged family. The family struggles as the father fights with the temptations of women and money in his high paying career while fears she may be losing her love for her husband.

Caught in between the feuding couple is their daughter Danielle (Alena Pitts)  who feels neglected as her parents continue to fight. The film progresses, showing a change in the family because of Miss Clara’s suggestion to pray.  

A major theme in the film is the idea of communication. Every member of the family struggles to communicate with each other. The parents fail to communicate about the smallest of issues, preferring instead to fight each other. Elizabeth and Tony fail to communicate with Danielle, leading to a very powerful scene early in the movie. Danielle questions her mother’s love for her, asking her mother to answer the simplest of questions about her life. Elizabeth answers with silence, because she realizes she really hasn’t shown her daughter the love she deserved.     

The film may be scene as a spiritual successor to one of Kendrick’s earlier successes, “Fireproof,” and, in fact, shares many key points.

A struggling relationship,  one partner asking for advice from a God-fearing elderly source, the other partner unwilling to change, the list of comparisons goes on. The similarities both add and subtract from the movie’s overarching story. If viewed without watching the Kendrick Brothers’ other productions, one will most likely enjoy the story for its powerful message. But after seeing previous films from the Brothers, the similarities between movies may seem like repetition and take away from the identity of the story.

The story in “War Room” is exquisite, containing a tasteful amount of comedy and drama. The dramatic scenes are powerful enough to cause shivers, while the comedic scenes are spaced out well enough to offer a chuckle but not distract from the seriousness of the story. Each scene including Miss Clara is a treat, blending humor, spirituality and drama. However, her role seems to dwindle in the second half of the film.

Another strong point of the film is showing the effects a dysfunctional family has on the children of the family. More specifically, the trauma that a fighting household has on children, such as Danielle.  

The acting seems to be a step up for the Kendrick Brothers. The writing feels more natural and sincere, except for the occasional awkward word choices. The actors seem to feel more comfortable in their roles, which allows them to express their characters far better than in previous films by the Brothers.

While this film shares many characteristics of a Kendrick Brothers’ film, its production has shown that the Kendrick brothers are able to make a film that can contend with major productions in terms of cinematography and production value. “War Room” includes a variety of  locations and stages, as well as a large cast that has just a handful of the Kendrick Brothers’ normal cast sticking around. A dynamic score draws the audience to a sound which feels less like a Christian mixtape and more like a true movie score.

“War Room,” released Aug. 28, is now playing in local theaters.

Hunter Hensley is a sophomore English major and an A&E reporter for Cedars. He is an avid gamer who likes to play almost any game under the sun with a group of friends.

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