First-time director David G. Evans and his co-writer Howard Klausner create… (Samuel Goldwyn Films )
"The Grace Card," the first filmmaking venture of the Calvary Church near Memphis, Tenn., starts promisingly, telling the story of two policemen, Sam (Michael Higgenbottom), white, middle-aged and deeply troubled, and Mac (Michael Joiner), a young African American eager to become a full-time pastor.
Mac's grief over witnessing the death of his 5-year-old son at the hands of a drug dealer has ravaged his marriage and damaged his surviving son (Rob Erickson), who's about to be thrown out of the prep school his parents can ill afford. Mac's misery has blocked his professional advancement and rendered him a dangerously unstable cop.
First-time director David G. Evans and his co-writer Howard Klausner create an involving, racially charged situation in which a man consumed by despair is teamed with a man of faith dealing with his own frustrated professional ambitions and prejudices, though Sam at least has the support of a wise relative (Louis Gossett Jr.) and spouse (Dawntoya Thomason).
"The Grace Card" becomes increasingly involving and assured, yet when the inevitable moment of truth arrives for the coming-apart Mac, the film lapses into melodrama, contrivance and improbability — such over-the-top emotional extravagance that even Cecil B. DeMille in his silent period might not have been able to get away with it.
"The Grace Card." Rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements. Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes. At Regal Cinemas L.A. Live Stadium 14, Los Angeles; and the Rave 18, Los Angeles.