War Room is the fifth film produced by Alex and Stephen Kendrick, but the first to be produced by their company rather than their church. Following its four predecessors’ footsteps, War Room contains excellent message content and a solid story to back it up.
Meet the Jordans, your average American family. Tony is a pharmaceuticals salesman, Elizabeth a real estate agent, and their 11-year-old daughter Danielle is on a double-dutch jump-rope team. Despite all appearances, though, they’re not doing so hot. Tony and Elizabeth fight all the time. Danielle wishes she could live in her friend’s much happier home.
Into this situation comes the elderly Miss Clara, Elizabeth’s pretty nosy client. Elizabeth asks about the selling price of the house. Miss Clara asks, “Would you say your prayer life is hot or cold?” Elizabeth answers that she wouldn’t say she’s hot, but she’s definitely not cold either. Miss Clara replies by serving her a cup of lukewarm coffee. After that point, Miss Clara is not a client so much as a mentor, teaching Elizabeth what it is to take things to the Lord in prayer. How to fight the right way against the right enemy.
I will admit that I went from very excited for this film to apprehensive. Because of its late release in Canada, I had a chance to hear a few things before I went to see it (plus I like my spoilers). The first thing that concerned me was mention of a scene in which Elizabeth essentially tells Satan to buzz off and leave her family alone. The second was a personal concern that perhaps at least some of the prayers might come across as “name-it-claim-it”. Both of these are due to my having heard too much of both before. Regarding the former, there isn’t always a demon to cast out of your home (or your body or whatever). As for the latter, yes, there is power in prayer, but it’s up to the Lord to answer yes, no, or wait.
Turns out I didn’t need to worry about the possibility of “name-it-claim-it” as I didn’t get that feeling about any of the prayers said or the answers thereunto. I was, however, caught off guard by the scene in which Miss Clara tells a potential mugger to “drop the knife in Jesus’ name”. I’ve heard this abused before and am thus wary of it, but I certainly won’t deny the power of Jesus’ name. I just don’t think every mugger will run off at the sound of it. And while the “buzz off, Satan” bit (as I call it) still rubs me the wrong way, Elizabeth’s tirade is inspiring in how she commits everything to God (“this house is under new management”) and her resolve to live differently. I also understand that perhaps this scene shows a sort of tangibility to this concept, especially as it’s easier to communicate as much on screen than other methods. (And the Kendricks are very much into making their messages tangible.)
On a different note, I have to applaud the film for another element here. Even moreso than the previous four, this film is geared almost entirely at Christians. However, that did not stop them from including (and seamlessly, I must add) a presentation of the Gospel. A little shorter than the presentations in Fireproof and Courageous, but still loud and clear.
I won’t talk much about the story here, but I will say that I was glad to see the impact of prayer on this family’s lives and that, even with renewed resolves and prayer, life won’t just magically become hunky-dory. There will be hardships and temptations and worries and fears. But that’s when you “fall on your knees and fight like a warrior”.
Overall, War Room delivers both message and story, a balance of which I’m discovering is difficult to strike, especially in Christian filmmaking. I would still have to say that Courageous remains my favourite of the five Kendrick films, with Fireproof right on its tail, but that’s not to discredit the impact that War Room can and will have.