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Originally published Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 3:04 PM

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Movie review

'The Grace Card': a hard-to-swallow tale of redemption

A review of "The Grace Card," a poorly executed tale of redemption and forgiveness, starring Michael Joiner and Michael Higgenbottom.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 1.5 stars

'The Grace Card,' with Michael Joiner, Michael Higgenbottom, Louis Gossett Jr., Joy Moore, Dawntoya Thomason. Directed by David Evans, from a screenplay by Howard A. Klausner. 101 minutes. Rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements. Several theaters.

A faith-based tale of forgiveness and redemption, "The Grace Card" never recovers from a lurch in plausibility midway through. It's the story of two Memphis cops; one good, one bad.

The good cop is Sam (Michael Higgenbottom), a pastor and a loving husband and father. The bad one is Mac (Michael Joiner), a bitter, racist fellow still wounded by the loss of a child many years ago and resentful of his surviving son (Rob Erickson).

These two one-dimensional characters are partnered up at work, and things don't work out very well, until. ...

Well, I didn't believe what came next, or what came after that, or that Sam would need the entire final third of the movie to come to a realization that the rest of us saw coming instantly. (Sometimes you wish you could yell through the screen, at characters who seem to be missing something obvious.)

"The Grace Card" is certainly well-intentioned and reasonably well-acted, particularly considering that many of the cast are first-timers. (The one marquee name, Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr., has only a few minutes of screen time.)

But its screenplay is mostly second-rate soap opera and its direction plodding, with many scenes held, awkwardly, longer than they need to be. The film's message is a fine one; its execution, less so.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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