Graphic Language: None
Strong Sexual Content: None
Tragedy has a way of bringing broken people together, and Samantha “Sam” Crawford is broken. While visiting the scene of her husband’s unsolved murder, she puts a pistol into her mouth. Nearby, a little boy shoplifts and runs out of the store into the street, little sister in tow.
Until she gets hit by a car.
Sam (Lynn Collins) rushes Keisha (Gabriella Phillips) to the hospital and promises brother Macon (Kwesi Boakye) that she’ll return the next day to check on them. As she’s leaving, she runs into childhood friend, Joe Bradford (Michael Ealy), who was called in as one of Keisha’s next-of-kin contacts.
Flashback to elementary school where Joe is the new kid on a predominantly white campus. None of the kids will let him sit with them at lunch, moving backpacks into empty spots and shaking their heads at him when he tries to sit. Everyone, that is, except for a gap-toothed little redheaded girl. They trade Jello for potato chips and a sweet friendship is born.
After being conned by Macon to bring pizza, chips, and candy on her visit, Sam pops in on Joe, and is surprised to find he runs a small youth group after school, rewarding kids for good grades and great behavior. During her visit, she begins piecing together clues from the night of her husband’s murder and suspects the kids’ next-door-neighbor “T”as the killer.
The friendship between Joe and Sam picks up right where it left off, with Joe telling the kids stories of their childhood together and his stint in prison after hacking into a bank’s software on a bet. He shared how Sam saved his life, once after a rattlesnake bite and the other by making him listen to country music. His knowledge of country lyrics kept the white inmates from killing him.
The many flashbacks fill in the gaps of the characters’ back stories. Joe is suffering from kidney failure and Sam, an award-winning children’s author, is unable to finish a story she started long ago.
A book she was working on when her beloved husband, Billy (Diego Klattenhoff) was killed.
A tale she left unfinished when he died.
A story that helped her solve his murder.
Desperate to bring her husband’s killer to justice and receiving no support with the case detective, Sam finds herself unable to stay away from “T.” She finds evidence that he is the killer and with the same pistol she tried to kill herself with, she waits for him in his house.
And receives closure in an unexpected way.
Unconditional is truly a must-see movie.
While Christian movies can sometimes come across as cheesy or corny, Unconditional delivers on the acting, writing, and directing. Prepare to laugh; prepare to cry. Prepare to walk out of the theater convicted.
There are several aspects of the movie that, if known beforehand, would spoil the brilliant plot line. While many movies are worth waiting to see on video, Unconditional is not one of them. This is a movie to see in the theater and buy when it comes out on DVD.
Themes of justice, repentance, kindness, and God’s mercy are richly threaded throughout every scene. Woven with the murder-mystery element is the idea that one man’s goodness can change people’s lives forever. “That God’s love is constant like the sun. Unchanging. What if you woke up one morning and realized God’s love is unconditional?”
Trust me on this: before you go to the theater, put a $2 bill in your pocket. You’ll thank me later.
This is a movie to see with the whole family. There is no cursing, no taking God’s name in vain, no sexuality. While Joe is in prison, he almost kills a man, but covering a pre-teen’s eyes during that scene is worth the rest of the movie.
Unconditional will leave you with plenty of great discussion topics. Where is God in the midst of pain? How can small acts of kindness change people’s lives? How far can you let your pride go before it breaks you?
In a world that glorifies immorality of all kinds, we should celebrate when a movie like Unconditional is made. A Christian movie that doesn’t lack in acting, plot, or substance can be hard to find, so supporting films that win in these areas will hopefully allow for more of them to be made. Don’t wait for it to come to video. See it in the theater. You won’t be disappointed.
Watch the official trailer for Unconditional
Learn more about movie reviewer and writer Bethany Jett
For more details about Unconditional, check out Christian Film Database
A main theme of the movie is Billy’s unending kindness to strangers. Jesus said “Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for Me” (Matthew 25:40). As we go through our hectic days, busy workweeks, and filled-to-the-brim schedules, how often do we look at strangers and think of them as “the least of these”? How often do we pay attention to those around us who are wholly uninvolved in our lives? What would change if we saw them as God did? Perhaps random acts of kindness shouldn’t be so random. We can make a difference in people’s lives with kind words and small gestures of gratitude or assistance. What is an “un-random” act of kindness your family could do for someone this week? Tomorrow? Today? Are there situations where reaching out to a stranger can be dangerous? How do you discern when it’s okay to help someone and when it’s not?