When I’d first heard about the release of The Redemption of Henry Myers in 2014 and watched the trailer I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to watch it on TV. I don’t have cable so I had to wait for it to be released on DVD or streaming. It was worth the wait.
Directed by Clayton Miller and written by Chris Vander Kaay, this western is sure to please even the most cynical critics of Christian film.
Note: This review was originally written in 2014 for and old blog. I have re-purposed it for this blog.
Henry Myers (Drew Waters from Breaking Bad, Friday Night Lights, The Hit List, Cowgirls ’n Angels) lives a hard life, getting by on the frontier however he can…even if it means robbing a bank. After his latest heist goes wrong and his outlaw friends betray him and leave him for dead, Henry is surprised to find extraordinary kindness from a widow named Marilyn (Erin Bethea from Fireproof, Facing The Giants, Letters To God) and her children.
With the influence of this family, Henry begins to question the choices he’s made. Just when things begin to make sense again, it’s all ripped away from him when his old gang shows up. Will he seek the revenge he desires or finally find his redemption?
First of all, this is a western. While I’m not a huge fan of westerns, I do like gun fights, damsels in distress, and dirty cheatin’ liars. OK, maybe I like westerns a little bit more than I thought.
Three things really caught my attention in this movie that I haven’t seen in other Christian films:
- There’s a complete story-arc for the main character.
- The costumes and sets were realistic.
- The Gospel is part of the story not just tacked on.
Henry Myers’ story in this film is complete. He goes from being a bad guy to a good guy but not through a quick conversion. It’s a slow burn, much like real life. He struggles to believe the Bible stories he hears Marilyn read to her children. He questions God’s character and the character of those around him.
Henry’s conversion feels authentic. There’s no “sinner’s prayer” or systematic walk through the scriptures. In the scene where Henry is converted his soul is laid bare before God. Heck, it reminds me of some of my prayers to God.
The costumes and sets looked natural and authentic. Characters are dirty. They’re covered in grime and sweat. The buildings and scenery make you feel like you’re in Texas in the late 1800’s. I can’t speak to the authenticity of the costumes because that’s not my cup of tea but it sure looked realistic to me.
Erin Bethea’s portrayal of Marilyn Sullivan is her best to-date. Having seen her in Facing the Giants and Fireproof it’s clear she’s been honing her acting skills. Drew Waters does an excellent job with the character of Henry Myers. He manages to convincingly take the character through a wide range of emotions.
Finally, the presentation of the Gospel in this film is part of the story and not something that was squeezed in so it could be labelled a “Christian film”. When Marilyn reads Bible stories to her kids it’s natural and Henry’s initial reluctance to participate in the readings seems natural for a man who was previously an outlaw.
Henry’s redemption, while expected, isn’t used to wrap-up the film. There’s more to come and the ending may surprise you. I was expecting something different but was pleased with how things ended. While a clear theme of Biblical redemption is present in the film, it doesn’t feel forced or preachy. The writing depicted conversations about faith naturally.
If you like westerns you won’t want to skip The Redemption of Henry Myers and if you like Christian films be sure to get this one too. Clayton Miller redeems the term “Christian entertainment” with this film.
The Redemption of Henry Myers is not rated because it’s a made-for-TV movie and is currently available to rent or purchase on Amazon.