It is no secret to those who know me: I don’t like Christian movies. It’s not that I don’t like the themes or “apologetic value” of them, it’s that they are not good. See our “Why Do Christian Movies Suck?” podcast for more details on that. With that in mind, you may be surprised to know that I didn’t hate War Room. I didn’t love it either; it is resting somewhere in the “okay” levels of movie purgatory between love and hate.
War Room is yet another Christian movie about a struggling married couple, overcoming their difficulties with the help of Jesus. Unfortunately, as with most Christian movies, it does so with clumsy writing, “so-so” acting and a bloated plot complete with Lifetime movie quality production. Don’t get me wrong, War Room covers a topic that is very close to my heart: marriage. I love my wife and anything that encourages me to love and serve her more and put Christ at the center of marriage is, at the very least, starting off nicely.
This is very nice movie that will be an encouragement to Christians and an eye-roll inducing affair for everyone else.
Many believers will probably strive to carve out time and space for their own “war room” to pray for their loved ones and that is a great thing. Unfortunately, most non-christians will leave it saying “Can you believe that grandma told the mugger to put down his knife in Jesus’ name and he did? Ridiculous!” Sadly, I can’t blame them for doing so even when they clearly missed the point.
War Room centers around the Jordan family, a family on the brink of divorce. Their conversations, typically rife with sarcasm and defensive jabs, are weighing down on their hearts and hurting their daughter (Alena Pitts). But things begin to change when Elizabeth (Priscilla C. Shirer) is challenged by a kind widow (Karen Abercrombie) to “fight better.” What does that mean? It means to pray for her husband (T.C. Stallings). “Let the Lord fight for her,” sound Biblical advice from a wise woman who has been through hell and back and seen God’s faithfulness. There is very little to find disagreeable in the doctrine discussed in this film, other than many times it felt forced into conversations. But it’s hard to disagree that it’s good to pray, forgive and repent.
From the time Elizabeth meets Miss Clara, the movie follows a predictable timeline: Wife repents and prays, husband repents and faces consequences of his actions and the family is restored. What bothered me was all the subplots surrounding the main storyline, though equally well-intentioned, took the focus away from the main story in order to shoehorn in more Christian wisdom. Does the husband need to be a cheater, thief, nominal Christian and bad father? No, choose one and stick with it. At some point, scenes, no matter how important they seem, need to be cut out of the movie for the sake of the main story and with a 2-hour runtime, that was somewhere around the hour-and-a-half mark.
Despite the barely passable rating, I would suggest War Room to believers with one caveat: Go into this movie expecting a Lifetime quality movie that shows an idealic view of how God can help you overcoming the difficulties of life. With that in mind, you can leave War Room feeling encouraged and challenged.
Oh, and don’t try to stop a mugger “In the name of Jesus.” That probably won’t end well.