Run the Race

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Kristin Smith

Movie Review

Bessemer, Florida, doesn’t have much to offer the Truett brothers. At least, not anymore.

After their mom’s tragic death, high school seniors Dave and Zach Truett have tried to piece their lives back together, but it’s not been easy. Their father, Mike, left home and turned to the bottle to numb his pain. And the boys? Well, they’re working on their own things.

Dave is strengthening his faith as he recovers from a previous, life-threatening injury. And Zach? He’s an All-State football star, pouring his time, passion and energy into a game that he hopes will be the two brothers’ ticket out.

But after Zach injures his knee badly in a brawl, Dave is forced to find an alternative escape from Bessemer. Now, both brothers must work together to truly break free from their painful shared past.

Positive Elements

Zach and Dave promise to take care of one another, and so they do. They’re both constant, loyal and caring. Dave often covers for his brother and offers wise words of advice. He also tries to forgive his father, a man who abandoned him and Zach.

Zach, on the other hand, initially has no intention of forgiving his father. But his heart softens over time. Both brothers love one another deeply and have learned to weather hard storms together.

The guys live alone but are cared for by their godmother, Louise. She makes sure they stay employed at the local grocery store (and after school, of course), well fed and nurtured. Whenever an emergency arises, she’s there to love and care for them. Similarly, the brothers’ coach looks out for them and finds ways to help them, too. (Coach Hailey even confronts their father, telling him to get his life together for the sake of his sons).

Zach and his father both apologize and ask for forgiveness. Relationships are restored, and perspectives shift.

Spiritual Elements

Dave is the church-going, faith-filled brother. He tries to encourage Zach to attend church with him, but Zach’s not really interested. Dave also strives to set a positive example as he practices forgiveness and prays regularly.

Zach dates a girl, Ginger, who believes in God and who comes from a family of faith. (Zach believes it is “fate” that brought them together.) Zach attends a family dinner with them and expresses his anger at God. This frustration soon boils over into his relationship with Ginger, too, even as she repeatedly tells him her faith is important and that God loves him.

Zach lashes out in anger after that conversation. Eventually, he tries to talk with God and expresses his deep-rooted pain and confusion (most of his willingness to pray comes from Dave’s example). These moments are raw and honest as Zach seeks God for answers and release from the bitterness inside him.

Multiple characters read the Bible, pray and cry out to God (both in times of need and habitually). A cross hangs on a wall, and a woman wears a cross necklace. A woman says she’s not afraid to give someone a piece of her mind on Friday and to “ask for forgiveness on a Sunday.” A girl wears a bracelet with Galatians 2:20 engraved on it. People pray before meals.

A pastor tells a young man that we’re all “works in progress.” The pastor also preaches a sermon and teaches lessons about Jesus’ birth, investing in your children, being spiritually aligned and seeking God.

Multiple people are encouraged to practice forgiveness, as well as to seek healing and a transformative relationship with God. A few people ask hard questions of faith, and they learn that God loves them through life’s ups and downs.

Sexual Content

A few teenage guys are seen shirtless, and the top of a guy’s boxers are briefly shown. A couple kisses each other on the cheeks. They also hug, hold hands and cuddle. A young man flirts with a nurse, calls her “hot,” and jokingly asks whether it’s his rear or his front that’s supposed to be exposed in a medical gown.

Violent Content

Teens get into several fights where punches are thrown and multiple people are tackled. We hear a bone snap after a teen is injured. Other previous, life-threatening injuries are discussed. A man is threatened with a baseball bat. Guys get tackled and pushed during a football game. A man discusses the violent deaths suffered by Jesus’ disciples. A young man has multiple seizures (once spitting and foaming at the mouth) and, eventually, dies.

Crude or Profane Language

One character labels himself an “idiot” a few times. We also hear the phrase “shut up.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

Teenagers drink beer at an outdoor hangout, and play beer pong as well. A few men drink beer at a bar, and one of the guys is often drunk. A nurse is known for having a “smokers cough.” One character puts a cigarette behind his ear. A young man takes medication for seizures.

Other Negative Elements

After Dave and Zach’s mother passed away from cancer, their father, Mike, left the house and began drinking to handle his grief. Mike can be intimidating, irrational, angry and manipulative. Once, he asks his son for money instead of focusing on rebuilding their relationship.

Zach struggles to forgive his father, calling him a “drunk” and a “coward.” He has a deep desire to accomplish more than his father and distance himself from his dad, but he often acts out his pain, anger and bitterness in relationally damaging ways.

Other people yell in anger and frustration. A teenage boy vomits. A guy admits to breaking off Jesus’ leg in a nativity scene. A boy jokingly asks his brother to dump his bed pan.

Conclusion

“There are only two ways you can be running … to God or from God.”

If you’ve ever experienced deep pain or loss, it isn’t easy to know where to run. Sometimes we’re drawn to God in the midst of our pain, and other times we lash out—wondering how we’ll be able to move forward. The thing is, we’re all on a journey. We’re all working out our faith as we “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1), just as Dave and Zach Truett do here.

Dave hurts badly, just like his brother, but he finds refuge in God’s embrace. Meanwhile, both Zach and his father run in the opposite direction—confused, lost and broken in their grief. Their road to reconciliation and healing is a long one. It isn’t filled with easy answers or cliché phrases, but with difficult questions and honest realizations.

Run the Race beautifully unpacks the emotional burdens carried by those who are broken and wounded. The film (produced by Tim and Robby Tebow) also encourages viewers to “look up” when life’s circumstances threaten to overwhelm us, when we feel like we’re at a breaking point.

A handful of scenes along the way involve teenage brawls and some underage drinking. But those issues aren’t the focus of this film, and those obviously reckless choices aren’t glorified here, either.

Instead, the focus is on authentic characters dealing with real pain—people who are encouraged to understand that God loves them through the chaos of life.

In fact, He loves them like crazy.

If anyone in your family needs a reminder about how much God loves them, consider checking out some of these offerings:

Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God’s Family

God Loves You Anyway

God’s Love

Pursued: God’s Divine Obsession with You

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).