An urban gospel romantic drama, which isn’t as bad as you’d think it would be.
Review (with Spoilers)
Like many people, when I saw this film I was cautious because it had all the signs of being bad. A rapper turned actor; a Baldwin brother; Michael Madsen; and then former Cheetah Girl Adrienne Bailon. Then, to add on top of all that, the title itself lets it be well known that this is a faith-based film. Heck, God is listed as an executive producer to show you what type of direction the film will have.
Characters & Story
The story for the movie deals with one Miles Montego (played by Ja Rule) who is a former gangster who seemed to get out just at the right time and go legit. But, though he may have left the thug life, he still hasn’t dropped the people he used to roll with who lead the DEA and IRS to watching him. He doesn’t take much note of them though and still works in his legit business of creating events. For example, in the film, he has one event called the “Old School Funk Fest.”
But, even with a million dollar home, $300,000 dollar car, loving parents and friends, the man is missing something in his life. Enter Vanessa (played by Adrienne Bailon) who re-introduces him to the idea of a love in god as he finds love through her. Leading us to watch the two fall in love, as Miles rediscovers his faith.
One thing I must admit, I came into this movie with the lowest expectations possible and yet was surprised by how much I enjoyed the film. Ja Rule, I think, could possibly fit that gap DMX left once he started handling his life the way he has, and could possibly just as much play a gangster as he could a love interest. Bailon too was also a bit surprising. Though her character wasn’t well defined, she still played a good enough love interest to make it so you could see why a man who could have anyone, like Miles could, would want her by his side.
Also, I must admit I liked how there was some attempt at not having any of the groups in the film be undeniable protagonist or antagonist. Mind you, the DEA/IRS seem a little prejudice when you first meet them as they question how Miles has all his wealth, but with time some of them you realize are just doing their job. This even, to a point, extends to Miles’ friends. Though we see them threaten lives, bust people’s windows and sometimes act like they are in a rap video, at the same time you see this friendship between them and Miles which shows that there is something more to them than simply what is visually presented on screen.
Leading to one of the big criticisms I have with the film, outside of Miles, no character gets a lot of development. Bailon’s Vanessa, for example, has one line about her future and life outside of Miles in which we can assume she maybe in college trying to be a doctor, a nurse, or something in the medical field. Outside of that, she is a love interest with a strong, almost cult-like, love for Jesus. Which leads to another big issue in the film: it is alienating. Throughout the film, there is such a heavy handed approach to making sure you know this is a movie about Christians and what a faith in god means to them, and could mean to you, that it sometimes drowns out genuinely decent scenes.
Then, to make things worse, not only are you drowned with Christian faith but when they have the film set in church the music is horrible and there is no sermon which makes you want to shout “Amen!” If anything, all you see is this mega church, a pastor in a Lamborghini and you can hear the argument in the back of your head how these people are being scammed so some guy can support a ridiculous lifestyle.
Mind you, they do show some positives of going to church, like how community-based it is, but I feel like the mixing of them having Miles and his friends, then having Vanessa in her means of finding god in everything, just didn’t mix well. To me, it felt like they tried to balance the film by having Miles racing in his car and having a few gangster moments, but it overall feels like the opposites don’t really mix together as much as awkwardly grind side by side.
Overall: TV Viewing
It is hard to outright recommend this film because it is so uncompromising with the topic of faith. I’d even think someone who was a Christian would be like, “enough already, I get it. You’re a Christian, surely there is something else which defines you.” Then, to add onto the film’s issues, it is two hours long and feels like the type of film you watch for a while, see what else is on, and then come back to it. And because of that, I say it is worth TV viewing.