By Aaron Wilson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Alex and Stephen Kendrick’s latest film “Overcomer,” which is now in theaters, breaks the mold from their previous movies in one important way.
“Every movie we’ve done before has contained a ‘go-and-do’ call to action,” said Alex Kendrick. “This one isn’t go-and-do; it’s know-and-understand.”
Whereas the Kendrick brothers’ past movies called on Christians to increase their prayer life (“War Room”) or strategically work at becoming a better father (“Courageous”), the movie “Overcomer” encourages believers to rest in their identity in Christ.
“Once you understand where your identity is found, you’re in a much better position to fight your battles and go do the action,” Alex said.
The theme of identity that’s woven through “Overcomer” finds its inspiration in the book of Ephesians, specifically where Paul says, “Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
“Everything changes for the Christian when they understand they’re God’s beloved child in Christ,” said Stephen Kendrick. “There’s wind in the sails. It’s not just me rowing my hardest to try to live the Christian life on my own.
“Now, when I approach the Father in prayer, it’s not as if I’m a stranger begging for bread from the king who doesn’t have time for me,” he continued. “No, I’m God’s beloved child—a joint heir with Christ.”
The Kendricks say their approach to “Overcomer” reflects the initial chapters of Ephesians, which contain almost no commands for actions.
“Paul doesn’t really tell Christians to do anything in those early chapters except to remember who they used to be,” Stephen said. “But then the imperatives kick in in chapters 4-6. In a similar manner, the goal of this movie is to provide Christians with a better understanding of who God says they are, so they can be equipped to live the Christian life.”
In order for viewers to understand what it means to actually be a Christian, the Kendricks clearly articulate the gospel in a speech by returning actress Priscilla Shirer.
Shirer plays a school principal in the film and also authored two resources for teen girls that go along with film on the subject of identity: the book “Radiant: His Light, Your Life” and the Bible study, “Defined: Who God Says You Are.”
While the film may have some new elements, fans of the Kendrick brothers will find a lot of what they’ve come to expect from the duo’s previous movies.
Familiar flavors in “Overcomer” include relatable characters and circumstances, inspirational moments, personal struggles, the questioning of faith, and an emotional journey that will have moviegoers laughing and crying, according to the filmmakers.
“If you’ve seen our previous movies and enjoyed them, this is like going back to your favorite restaurant, but getting a new and better dish,” Alex said.
“Overcomer” has the biggest budget yet for a Kendrick brothers’ film. This allowed them to shoot with anamorphic lenses—the same kind used on the latest “Star Wars” and “Mission Impossible” installments.
“We also have more professionals and use more production vistas in this one,” said Alex. “And a lot of it was filmed outside. We think it’s the best-shot film we’ve made. Everything is at a higher level.”
From the first scene of “Overcomer,” fans will notice how this movie raises the bar for the Kendrick brothers’ cinematography. The opening shot uses a drone that starts a half-mile away from the actors and weaves its way into buildings and around set pieces for one continuous shot that involves numerous actors.
“There are a few other shots like this one we’re excited for people to see because we’ve filmed scenes in this movie we’ve never done before,” said Alex.
But regardless of the budget, cameras or special effects, the Kendricks consider cinematic innovation as simply a tool to help draw people to the truths of Scripture and the gospel.
“We hope this movie serves as a way to help God’s people understand what their identity in Christ means,” said Alex. “That if the peripheral things or material things are stripped away, we’ve ensured the order of our identity is first founded in Christ.”
“Overcomer” is in theaters nationwide. For more information and to reserve tickets, visit OvercomerMovie.com.
Aaron Wilson is a writer for Lifeway Christian Resources.