Breakthrough is a Christian drama directed by Roxann Dawson and written by Grant Nieporte, based on the Christian book named The Impossible, an account of true events written by Joyce Smith with Ginger Kolbaba. Breakthrough tells the story of a St. Louis teenager who slipped through an icy lake in January of 2015 and was under the water for fifteen minutes before resuscitative efforts were started. Bring tissues, Breakthrough is a true tear-jerker.
John Smith (Marcel Ruiz) is a fourteen-year-old Guatemalan boy raised in Lake St. Louis, Missouri by his adoptive parents, Brian (Josh Lucas) and Joyce Smith (Chrissy Metz). Though they were loving and supportive, John struggled with abandonment issues, feeling his birth parents didn’t want him. Although his adoptive parents tried to explain that there are many reasons to give a child up for adoption, their explanations fell on deaf ears. John developed a pretty bad attitude and rebelled against his parents and teachers.
In Christian Middle school, John’s class was assigned the task of presenting a narrative about their family background. On his day to present, John admits he did not do the assignment. His basketball coach Paul (Danny Wattley), who had promised him a starting position, warns John that if he gets a failing grade, he will be benched. John later gives a half-hearted presentation, saying that everyone already knows he is adopted and he does not know much about his true background. John was an avid basketball player who stood a chance of playing professionally someday, except he didn’t share and had a habit of hogging the ball. Being popular, he didn’t think there were consequences for his actions until he and his friends Josh (Isaac Kragten) and Reiger (Nikolas Dukic) went out onto a frozen lake, ignoring a neighbor’s (Cory Wojcik) warning. The resident calls the police, and all three boys fall through the ice. Josh and Reiger manage to swim to the surface and are rescued by first responders. Two rescuers dive in but are unable to find John. As they are about to give up, one of the rescuers, Tommy Shine (Mike Colter), hears a voice telling him to go back. Thinking the voice came from his chief (Chuck Shamata), he tries again and manages to find and lift John to the surface. With no pulse or breath, John is taken to the local hospital. After John still fails to register a pulse, the attending physician Dr. Sutterer (Sam Trammell) gives Joyce a chance to say goodbye. A weeping Joyce cradles her son in her arms, pleading with the Holy Spirit not to let John die.
What happens next, is one for the books. Breakthrough is a true story and is called a spiritual or faith-based movie. For me, Breakthrough is the way it should be for each of us who believes in GOD and has true faith. If anyone I knew fell through the ice into a freezing cold lake, you can bet I’d pray non-stop for their recovery until something happened, good or bad. These boys used their free will, albeit dumb, when they decided to do something they were warned not to do. GOD had nothing to do with them falling through the ice but everything to do, through prayer, with getting them out. Breakthrough was well-acted, despite the disastrous situation, entertaining and most informative. There were many touching scenes and an abundance of prayer from friends, the family’s pastor, Jason Noble (Topher Grace), schoolmates and even their expert, Dr. Garrett (Dennis Haysbert). Because there is no explanation, rhyme or reason for many events that took place, we recognize the events as miracles, which were happening all over the place.
Breakthrough received mixed to positive reviews from critics, who praised the performances and inspirational messages but called the plot predictable despite being a true story. According to the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 61% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 62 reviews; the average rating is 5.52/10. The website’s critics consensus reads, “Like its lead character, Breakthrough is fiercely focused on faith – but its less subtle elements are balanced by strong performances and an uplifting story.” Breakthrough grossed $40.7 million in the United States and Canada, and $9.7 million in other territories (including $5.9 million in Brazil), for a worldwide total of $50.4 million. I highly recommend Breakthrough, so Check It Out!
[BREAKTHROUGH is Oscar-nominated for Best Original Song — Totaling 1 Oscar nomination]