Even while watching a film like this you can see that it is manipulative. It doesn’t have to be, though. Films can be sad without being overly melodramatic. Blame has to be heaped upon the shoulders of the director in this instance – Denzel Washington. Surprising as he is a talented filmmaker having previously helmed such films as Fences, The Great Debaters and Antwone Fisher. The surprise of the lack of quality here is doubled when you factor in that Michael B. Jordan plays the lead role. A dynamite combo and yet….a lacklustre result. But we can’t all be perfect, can we?
Based on a true story (the journal of Charles Monroe King and the novel by Dana Canedy), we go into the film knowing that the lead character, Charles Monroe King (played by Michael B. Jordan), who is a 1st Sgt. in the U.S. Army, has died while serving in Baghdad. This is not a spoiler as it is revealed very early on as it sets up the premise of a young boy reading the journal his deceased father wrote for him at his mother Dana’s (played by Chante Adams). A young man wanting to know why his mother does not often speak of his father and to learn who Charles truly was.
Another surprise comes in the form of Chante Adams and Michael B. Jordan. Their time together on screen does not come off well. Adams is great as she instills the vigour and charm required of Dana but Jordan is not up to snuff. He seems lost at how to portray Charles. As a result, there is zero chemistry between the two leads. Really takes the legs out from under the story.
The importance of family is pounded home time and time again here. It is a subject which most of us agree with so the constant reminders are not necessary or entertaining to watch.
Technically this is a strong film. It looks great with strong camerawork and cinematography.
- Deleted Scenes
- Gag Reel
- Family Portrait: Making the Film
- Heart and Soul: Charles and Dana
- Words of Wisdom: The Journal