“The Grace Card”
Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence and mature themes.
Running time: 103 minutes
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Seventeen years ago, Mac (Michael Joiner) and Sara McDonald (Joy Parmer Moore) were left devastated by the loss of a child who died while a crime was being committed. But where Sara’s grief led her to focus on the needs of their surviving son (Robert Erickson), her embittered husband lost his faith and gradually grew emotionally estranged from the rest of the family.
Furthermore, because the man who killed their little boy was Black, Mac developed some prejudices about minorities, attitudes which only ended up sabotaging his career as a member of the Memphis Police Department. Recently, the veteran cop’s resentment turned to rage when he was passed over for a promotion in favor of an African-American with less seniority.
To add insult to injury, he found himself assigned that officer as his partner, a development setting up a potentially-combustible situation. For having to share a squad car with a bigot was likely to test the patience of even a mild-mannered, part-time pastor like Sam Wright (Mike Higgenbottom). And predictably enough, Mac is bothered not only by the sergeant’s skin color but by his superior’s humming of Gospel hymns while they’re out on patrol.
This tinder box of a premise provides the intriguing point of departure for “The Grace Card,” a faith-based, modern fable of Biblical proportions marking the noteworthy directorial debut of David G. Evans. On a modest budget of just $200,000, Evans has miraculously managed to craft a compelling tale certain to resonate with the Christian community as well as anyone else in search of wholesome family fare.
The picture is narrated by Lou Gossett, Jr., who doles out helpful spiritual counsel as the voice of reason in a pivotal role as sage elder George Wright. The escalating tension has his grandson praying (“Lord, don’t let me kill my partner!”) for self-control and contemplating retiring from the force to pursue what he feels is his true calling as a preacher in the pulpit full-time.
So, Sgt. Wright consults his wise grandfather who urges him to remain a cop since “Jesus’ ministry is out here in the streets.” And as for handling hot-headed Mac, Grandpa George recommends compassion, and playing “The Grace Card” rather than “The Race Card,” because, “You can never underestimate the power of grace.”
Sam hesitantly heeds the advice to stick it out with Mac, which allows the plot to enmesh them in a life and death crisis leading to a mutual shot at reconciliation and redemption. Inspiring and uplifting, “The Grace Card,” in sum, is a modern morality play offering a satisfying reminder about the real meaning of forgiveness.