Last Ounce of Courage starts out significantly better than it has any right to be. It’s Thanksgiving in the Revere household and the family has reunited for the first time in a long time. Christian Revere (Hunter Gomez) and his mother (Nikki Novak) come back to the small town of Mount Columbus to be with his family. They haven’t been home in a while from their native Los Angeles after the death of Christian’s father in a war. Christian, not having been around his grandparents or the town his mother grew up in some time, wants to discover information about the father he never got to meet. Bonding with his grandfather Bob (Marshall R Teague) , the two figure out their relationship amid the drama of having lost a son and father respectively.
And then it gets all Jesus Crazy. How so? Because they bond over bringing in a Bible to Christian’s newfound school and the resulting, ahem, controversy from it that shapes both their lives and relationships with one another. From there it becomes a film about faith wrapped around the bible, designed for the type that thinks that Intelligent Design started with Jesus wrapped in the American Flag 2,000 years ago. And the amusing thing is that this singular aspect of the film, its unwavering devotion to hammer home that being a good person is about God and country, is the least annoying part of the film. In fact if you took out this aspect it’s still one of the worst films of the year.
The problem is that the film is amateurish in production and … well … nearly everything else. This is a film that’s poorly acted to start with; it’s not like this is a cast culled from a Church following gussied up by a star or two like Courageous or Fireproof. This is a cast populated with fairly veteran hands and it’s almost painful to watch at just how bad they are. This is community theatre level bad and it makes a film like The Room seem like an all star production by comparison.
Darrel Cmapbell and Kevin McAfee are making their debut as directors and it’s obvious they don’t know how to bring out anything but a generous at best mediocre performance from the cast. It’s the sort of acting, stiff and wooden, that populated the Star Wars prequels. It’s as if the film was produced quickly with a premium on efficiency, not effectiveness, and it shows. You can get away with this if you have talented veteran hands on deck that don’t need a lot of takes to get the scene. When you’re stuck with a number of people that have lots of credits but nothing significant or noteworthy in accomplishment it leaves your film looking awful.
And if it wasn’t just painful to watch from an acting perspective it’s also really poorly filmed. For a film with a wide release into theatres it looks like a gussied up home video that’s used at a church function to play to the congregation. If someone wants to use this film as part of their resume as a cinematographer they shouldn’t be allowed to even watch a film, much less make one. The film’s production is amateurish at best and the camerawork reflects it. Outside of the film’s first fairly decent tracking shot, of Teague on a motorcycle near a train, everything else is shot like a television soap opera as opposed to a film. Last Ounce would work better on the small screen than the big one because it’s not set up to be a theatrical release; compared to even the worst of studio productions it pales because it looks so much significantly worse.
It’s a shame because, outside of the massive injection of Evangelical Christianity to the point of absurdity, there’s actually a fairly decent story to be mined out of this. There’s something powerful about the story of a grandfather and grandson trying to connect without the necessary connection of the progeny of the former and the producer of the latter there to close the generation gap. There’s something to the concept of exploring this that makes you want to give this film a chance and not give up on. Unfortunately everything else about the film is such garbage that even the most devout might consider changing their faith after having watched this film.
Director: Darrel Campbell and Kevin McAfee
Writer: Darrel Campbell
Notable Cast: Jennifer O’Neill, Marshal R Teague, Fred Williamson, Jenna Boyd, Rusty Joiner, Hunter Gomez