“I promise to pray for you every day, ask for forgiveness, grant you the same and be your friend always.” These are the words penned on the “Grace Card,” a slip of paper written by police officer and pastor Sam Wright’s (Michael Higgenbottom) great-great grandfather to his former slave master.
Church-made film The Grace Card takes those messages of forgiveness and friendship to the streets of Memphis with a surprising degree of skill.
Mac McDonald (Michael Joiner) is a Memphis police officer whose life is held together by a thread. With his marriage failing, teenage son rebelling and financial life in ruins, the last thing McDonald needs is to be passed up for a long-awaited promotion at the station. But that is exactly what happens. Officer and part-time reverend Sam Wright is promoted in McDonald’s stead and assigned to be McDonald’s partner. Lone ranger McDonald is far from thrilled with the idea, especially since a tragic accident in the past has left him with a deep prejudice against African-Americans like Wright.
McDonald and Wright butt heads throughout the story as McDonald’s home life spins out of control, and Wright feels as though he has failed his congregation while struggling to love McDonald despite his apparent racism. In one scene, Wright shares his feelings with his grandfather, George Wright (Louis Grossett Jr., An Officer and a Gentleman). George then shows him the “Grace Card.”
Though he knows those truths are just as true today as when they were written nearly 150 years ago, Wright’s change of heart does not happen immediately. It takes a tragedy striking McDonald and his family for Wright finally to love and serve his partner wholeheartedly; in the process, he also teaches McDonald the lessons of the “Grace Card.”
The Grace Card is the first film made by Calvary Pictures, the movie ministry of Calvary Church in Memphis. Though inspired by Sherwood Pictures, The Grace Card is far superior to Sherwood’s first film venture, Flywheel, and rivals even their latest success, Fireproof, in quality. The Grace Card benefits from an interesting plot, thoughtful script and well-done camerawork, but it is not without its issues.
When it comes to acting, the leads, though they have their lackluster moments, are generally good; however, supporting characters like McDonald’s wife, Sara (Joy Moore), and Wright’s wife, Debra (Dawntoya Thomanson), struggle to give convincing performances. Grossett’s acting experience shows as he gives the best performance of the cast.
The Grace Card struggled musically as well. Though at times the score added to the emotion of a scene, viewers were jarred from a few key moments by songs that were inappropriately placed.
But despite the stumbles expected of Calvary’s first motion picture, The Grace Card delivers powerful messages and even confronts a touchy subject like racism. The Grace Card is a film that is not afraid to take a look at the harshness of life and teaches that, though difficult, extending grace and forgiveness is always worth it.