February 25, 2011 at 1:00 am

Review: Cop in 'The Grace Card' finds salvation on preachy terms

Michael Joinerís character Mac carries his grief over his young sonís death into his marriage to Sara, played by Joy Parmer Moore. (Samuel Goldwyn Films)

"The Grace Card" isn't so much a movie as a sermon, and those in search of spiritual uplifting may find it more worthy than most of what Hollywood puts out.

As stiff as it is sincere, the film lays out its story of tragedy and redemption in broad terms, moving somewhere between TV-movie-of-the-week ground and a Tyler Perry gospel celebration. But understand, the point here isn't subtlety; it's preaching.

The film is about Mac MacDonald (Michael Joiner), a white street cop in Memphis. In a flashback at the film's beginning, we see his small boy killed by a drug dealer's car as the dealer flees the law.

Mac carries his grief around for all to see, and 17 years later he's in a close-mouthed marriage with another son (Robert Erickson) who's failing in high school and showing signs of trouble. Small wonder: All anybody does in the family is fight.

Mac gets reluctantly partnered with Sam Wright (Michael Higginbottom), a black officer who just so happens to be a preacher, and also happens to have just gotten a promotion. Mac's resentful; Sam's friendly nevertheless.

But as Mac's inner turmoil starts to come out — and when he faces another tragedy — Sam turns out to be (big surprise) his guide on the road to salvation.

The film has plot turns that swing so wide as to stagger all belief. But then belief is what a movie like this is all about. It's not searching for something that feels true, it's proselytizing The Truth.

Overall, "The Grace Card" isn't so much a movie as it is a Sunday school lesson and morality play. Undoubtedly there is an audience for such comfort.

'The Grace Card'

GRADE:C

Rated PG-13: For violence and thematic elements

Running time: 103 minutes

Tlong@detnews.com

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