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Movie Info


R (for language)


April 2003


1 hr. 40 minutes




Billy Bob Thornton, Morgan Freeman, Holly Hunter, and Kirsten Dunst


Ed Solomon


Sony Pictures Classics


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In providing movie reviews on our site, is not endorsing or recommending films we review. Our goal is to provide Christians with information about the latest movies, both the good and the bad, so that our readers may make an informed decision as to whether or not films are appropriate for them and their families.



By Elliott Ryan
Guest Columnist - Billy Bob Thornton stars in this heavy drama as Manual Jordan, a convicted murderer looking for redemption. After 23 years in a maximum security prison, Jordan is paroled against his will. He feels he should stay behind bars the rest of his life to pay for his crime. Since that is no longer an option, he feels it necessary to see if there is any way good deeds today can pay for one evil deed in his past.

Jordan is taken in by Miles Evans (Morgan Freeman), a pastor who runs a local community center. Evans is not a typical minister as, in addition to preaching and ministering, he also curses and self-medicates with some sort of illegal substance when he is alone in his room. In addition, he refers to his own sermons as lies. He does, however, give Jordan a job and a place to stay.

Jordan also becomes involved in the lives of two women who live in town. One of those women is Adele (played by Holly Hunter). She is the sister of the man Jordan killed 23 years ago. Jordan develops a relationship with her out of a desire to ask her for forgiveness and help her in some way. Unfortunately, he never mentions to her that he was her brother's killer. As with any secret of this nature, it is only a matter of time until she finds out Jordan's identity one way or another.

Jordan also tries to help Sofia (played by Kirsten Dunst). She is a troubled young woman who has a bad habit of passing out in nightclubs. Perhaps Jordan feels that by trying to help her, he can gain further redemption from his sins.

This movie makes a powerful statement about how just one evil action can ruin a person's life. Jordan was not a hardened serial killer. He was just a 17-year-old kid who made a stupid decision to hold up a convenient store and then in the stress of the moment fired on the clerk for no reason. That one sin has taken away his entire adult life to this point. Now he is obsessed with finding some way to wash his hands clean of the past. But he has great difficulty accomplishing that task.

Unfortunately, Jordan fails to find the one thing in life that can bring absolution for past sins -- a relationship with Jesus Christ. God is mentioned often in the discussion of finding redemption but virtually every main character, including the preacher, says they don't believe in God. But the movie makes an important point nonetheless: Everyone is looking for redemption and forgiveness. Everyone desires second chances. As believers, we have a message that provides hope to a lost world -- we can introduce them to a God who gives second chances.

This film is often being referred to as a Christian film. That label doesn't really fit. In addition to the God-less worldview of the characters, the film is laced with profanity. The story is uplifting but not really all that Christian.

But it is still an excellent movie. Writer and director Solomon makes his directorial debut with this film. He is known in Hollywood as a screenwriter for such films as Men in Black and the Bill and Ted series. The cast features four well-known, talented actors who all put in good performances. Thornton's character seems to be a mix between characters he played in two movies released in recent years: Monster's Ball and The Man Who Wasn't There.

This is certainly not a movie for the whole family. But adult viewers who can sit through the constant barrage of four-letter words will see a powerful movie about man's need for redemption. Hopefully, the film will encourage viewers to consider how they can find redemption in their own lives.

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