Despite being saddled with a couple of generic American names, John Smith’s (Marcel Ruiz) life story has been anything but boring. It’s just too bad that the shy, 14-year-old has been too embarrassed to share it.

You see, he was born in Guatemala, but raised in Missouri by Brian (Josh Lucas) and Joyce Smith (Chrissy Metz), the missionary couple that adopted him as an infant. But even the terrific childhood they provided couldn’t supply answers to nagging questions that still burdened the boy in junior high, such as, “Why didn’t his birth mom love him enough to keep him?” John was so traumatized that he gave his teacher a lame excuse the day he was supposed to make a class presentation about his family tree.

Luckily, he did have a couple of BFFs to hang out with in Josh (Isaac Kragten) and Reiger (Nikolas Dukic). However, the three could be a little rebellious, like on the afternoon of January 15, 2015 when they were warned by a stranger not to tempt fate by wandering out onto seemingly-frozen Lake St. Louis.

But they did, and fell through the ice, one after another. Rescue teams arrived soon enough to save two of the kids within minutes, but John had slipped so far beneath the surface that it took the extraordinary effort of one very determined fireman (Mike Colter) to belatedly find his body by poking around in the 12-foot deep waters with a stick.

John had no pulse, since he’d been submerged over 15 minutes. Yet, that didn’t discourage first responders and then the ER physician on duty (Sam Trammell) at nearby St. Joseph’s Hospital from trying repeatedly to revitalize him. Miraculously, John did come around after about an hour, which prompted an airlift to the top doctor in the field (Dennis Haysbert) in the St. Louis area.

Thus, unfolds Breakthrough, a true tale of survival based on a moving memoir by Joyce Smith. Since each step of the unprecedented feat recounted here had been accompanied by prayer, the question triggered again and again was whether the operation had succeeded because of state-of-the-art medical care, divine intervention, or a combination of both. 

An edge-of-your-seat, faith-oriented/medical drama, equally riveting in terms of spiritual and worldly concerns.

Excellent (3.5 stars)

Rated PG for peril and mature themes

Running time: 116 minutes

Production Companies: Fox 2000 Pictures / 20th Century Fox

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun

For movies opening April 19, 2019

WIDE RELEASES

The Curse of La Larona (R for violence and terror) Sixth installment in The Conjuring horror series, set in Los Angeles in the nineteen-seventies, revolving around a widow (Linda Cardellini) who enlists the assistance of a skeptical priest (Tony Amendola) to protect her family from the wrath of a deadly ghost (Marisol Ramirez). With Sean Patrick Thomas, Raymond Cruz, and Patricia Velasquez.

Penguins (G) Ed Helms narrates this nature documentary chronicling a young male penguin’s quest to build a nest and to find a life partner.

Under the Silver Lake (R for drug use, frontal nudity, graphic sexuality, violence, and pervasive profanity) Suspense comedy, set in Los Angeles, revolving around a jaded 33-year-old’s (Andrew Garfield) effort to solve the mysterious disappearance of a young woman (Riley Keough) he saw swimming in his apartment complex’s pool. With Topher Grace, Grace Van Patten, and Chris Gann.

INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Fast Color (PG-13 for violence and brief profanity) Sci-fi thriller about a woman (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) forced to abandon her family and go on the run from a sheriff (David Strathairn) who discovers she has superpowers. With Lorraine Toussaint, Saniyya Sidney, and Christopher Denham.

Hail Satan? (R for profanity and graphic nudity) Documentary examining religious freedom by tracing the rise of the Satanic Temple, a controversial cult founded by the charismatic Michael Wiener just six years ago.

High on the Hog (Unrated) Action thriller about the patriarch (Sid Haig) of a pot cartel’s effort to protect his family from drug agents descending on his tiny farm town. With Joe Estevez, Fiona Domenica, and Robert Z’Dar.

Little Woods (R for profanity and drug use) Sibling rivalry drama, set in North Dakota, about a couple of long-estranged sisters (Tessa Thompson and Lily James) who set aside their differences in order to prevent the impending foreclosure of their recently-deceased mother’s estate. Cast includes Lance Reddick, Luke Kirby, and James Badge Dale.

Rafiki (Unrated) Romance drama—banned by the Kenyan government—about the love which blossoms between two girls (Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva) from rival political families. With Neville Misati, Nice Githinji, and Charlie Karumi. (In English and Swahili with subtitles).

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