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Not long ago, a common criticism against Christian films was that they weren’t relevant enough. Such a complaint would certainly fail to hit the mark if launched at Last Ounce of Courage. In a culture in which an attack on conservative morals and Christian beliefs becomes increasingly apparent, this film about defending one’s freedom to live out such beliefs could not be timelier.
Last Ounce takes a unique approach to the topic that increases the movie’s relevance and broadens its scope, as viewers are invited to see the story from the perspective of a military veteran and father of a soldier. Though Last Ounce is not made with the best of production values, the film’s absence of negative content offers the entire family an unusual opportunity to watch an uplifting movie together.
Better still, the story takes no prisoners in its effort to wake up Christian Americans to the crisis of freedom at their door and to call to battle those who wish to preserve this country’s foundations.
Though Bob Revere was never told freedom was something that had to be fought for, going to war and fighting bravely in action came naturally. Watching his only son leave for a different war is far less natural and downright painful. Despite the desire that his son would stay safely at home, Bob sends his son off well, with encouragement to fight to the last for freedom and the promise that Bob will take care of his son’s wife and child.
The advice Bob most wanted his son to heed, however, was to “come back.” [SPOILER WARNING] When two military officers appear at the Reveres’ front door, they know that hope is dashed—their son is dead. The news leaves Bob and his wife, Dottie, devastated and their son’s young window shattered. Though Kari Revere lived with her in-laws while her husband was overseas, she now decides to leave with her baby son. Bob is only further decimated by the departure of Kari and his grandson, Christian, and he withdraws for a time, looking for a way to continue on.
Fourteen years later, Kari and Christian return. Now a teenager, Christian is a distant shadow of the son Bob lost and Bob, now the mayor of Mount Columbus, can’t find a way to approach this stranger of a grandson and the daughter-in-law who left when most needed. Like most teenagers, Christian is searching for his identity, purpose, and truths to build his life on.
This quest leads him to want to know more about his deceased father. As Christian ponders the significance of his dad’s life and death, he becomes increasingly aware of the world around him—a country that no longer allows the celebration of Christmas in public or the carrying of Bibles in schools.
Realizing the injustice of such regulations, Christian becomes bothered enough to speak out and ask his grandfather why they are doing nothing to fight for their freedoms. Reminded of his own son’s sacrifice, Bob can do nothing other than respond to his grandson’s challenge by launching his own, non-violent counterattack on the anti-Christian sentiment that has ruled Mount Columbus for too long. The first freedom Bob sets out to reclaim is the celebration of Christmas.
Standing on his legal rights to celebrate the national, federally recognized holiday, Bob charges through the opposition, waving the flag that his family and his town must choose to either tear down or help raise as a declaration of freedom for this and future generations.
Given the significance of Christmas in Last Ounce of Courage, this movie has many of the trimmings of a Christmas film that would normally be viewed during the holiday season. But the movie's focus on religious freedom and patriotism makes it appropriate for year-round viewing.
One of Last Ounce's greatest strengths is its natural interweaving of Christian content so that Christian living, not preachiness or evangelical clichés, oozes out of the film. Characters asking God for forgiveness, acknowledging God’s providence, and frequent mentions of Jesus’s birth are among the evidence of this film’s Christian worldview.
In addition, the freedoms that Bob and the other characters object to having stripped away are those that directly relate to expression of their faith. Because of the United States’ Christian foundations, those are the liberties that are the most inherently American, and the story of Last Ounce movingly communicates the importance and necessity of fighting for and defending those rights.
Other positive themes are added to this needful one, including forgiveness, family, love, and the influential power and responsibility that fathers have in the shaping of their sons. True heroes, of the moral and sacrificial kind, are set forth as examples that parents can be pleased to have their children honor.
As one would hope for in a Christian film, there is almost no objectionable content to take away from the laudable messages. One lapse in this regard comes when a character uses the word, “heck.” The only other concern that parents may have comes with the plot of some teens to transform their “winter” school play, which was intentionally written by the school’s principal to be secular, into a Christmas nativity play. These kids intentionally do not tell adults (with the exception of one man whom they enlist to help) of their plan and instead determine how they are going to prevent the school officials from stopping them mid-performance.
This situation does present a difficult case for parents to address with their children, as the teens in the film are blatantly, somewhat deceptively, going against authority figures and are rewarded, rather than punished for doing so. However, these same saboteurs are clear that they are changing the play only because they believe that performing the play as written would be “a lie,” since the play does not tell the “true Christmas story.”
The teenagers are also following the example they see set before them, of a grandfather and mayor who is willing to face punishment and even unfounded prosecution in order to take back the legal rights he and the children should have. His approach could be criticized or faulted, as one could argue that Bob should adhere more strictly to the law, even when it is unconstitutional and wrong. Yet, Bob is completely nonviolent in his actions and, despite a single judge’s ruling at one point and the unexplained actions of the police at another, within his true legal rights.
Given that there are differing, compelling arguments for civil disobedience and demonstrations versus non-confrontational voting and lobbying for policy changes, these content issues can be seen as an opportunity for families to discuss such ideas, rather than as problematic. Parents would be wise to watch this film with young children because of this thought-provoking material, as well as the movie’s light war violence (most of which is not shown or depicted without any graphic detail).
While Last Ounce succeeds thematically and in family-friendly content, the movie suffers from a filmmaking standpoint, having lower production values than one typically sees in a theatre-worthy piece. The screenplay’s strength is in the realistic handling of Christian content, but the story otherwise challenges viewers’ suspension of disbelief too frequently with unrealistic and rather implausible scenarios. Thus, the story’s solid core premise is weakened, at times, because of moments that go too far, are too strange or unlikely, or simply don’t fit the movie.
[MILD SPOILER WARNING] One such example is the inclusion of a rather clichéd “angel” character. In this case, the angel idea does not at all match the practical Christianity demonstrated in the rest of the film, nor does he play any significant role, rarely appearing on screen and only performing a single action at the end of the film that is sweet, but quite unnecessary.
The authenticity of Last Ounce also comes into question thanks to some faltering actors. For the most part, Marshall R. Teague as Bob handles the lead role competently, with only a few, almost imperceptible slips. Playing Bob’s wife, Jennifer O’Neill performs equally well. The pleasant surprise of the picture is actor Jenna Boyd, who plays Christian’s friend, Mattie. Though young, Boyd brings obvious experience to the film, showing the chops that earned her roles in big-budget projects and the mark of an actor who is at home in front of the camera. The actors responsible for bringing other characters and scenes to life, however, are often overwhelmed, sometimes by the awkward writing of a scene, and sometimes by their own lack of experience or skill.
A few poorly done shot transitions, indecisive storytelling choices, unexplained plot manipulation, and half-told subplots also betray the film’s lack of polish. Yet these and the above-mentioned errors are nearly compensated for by the excellent cinematography. There is practically no fault to be found in the equipment, camerawork, and lighting that is of professional, big-budget quality—except perhaps that the cinematography only occasionally shows an effort to be artistic.
It should be noted that the faults and strengths of Last Ounce follow almost exactly the pattern of the Sherwood Pictures' films that have reached theatres, rendering this effort no worse or better than those box-office successes.
With humor, emotion, and meaningful messages, Last Ounce will overcome its production weaknesses for most audiences, given the chance. Those who overlook this movie will miss a moving, entertaining experience that honors true heroes and calls for viewers to become such themselves in the fight to preserve freedom.
Want movies that promote good values and uplifting truth? Vote for them by supporting and watching films like Last Ounce of Courage.
Check out these related titles:
Flag of My Father (R-Squared Productions, 2011)
Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure (Pyro Pictures, 2012)
For more ideas, check out our What to Watch page!