SFC Travis Fox (TC Stallings, War Room) is a war veteran returning home in My Brother's Keeper, a faith-based flick from Collide Distribution arriving in theaters on March 19th telling the story of Fox's struggle to adapt after his 6th combat deployment and the tragic death of his best friend, SFC Ron "Preach" Pearcy (Joey Lawrence, Blossom and Melissa & Joey), in an IED attack that killed his entire Ranger platoon.
Fox returns to his hometown to settle the affairs of his parents after their deaths three years earlier, a settling that becomes unsettled as he becomes gripped by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that only begins to settle thanks to the interventions of a church counselor, Dr. Tiffany Robertson (Keshia Knight Pulliam, The Cosby Show). However, when his old best friend Donnie (Robert Ri'chard, Coach Carter) brings secrets to the surface Fox's already fragile healing is threatened and is newfound faith in God becomes questioned leading down a road of desperation that seems destined to not end well.
My Brother's Keeper is directed by faith-based vet Kevan Otto (A Question of Faith, Forgiven) and written by retired Army vet turned screenwriter Ty Manns (A Question of Faith, The 5th Quarter).
My Brother's Keeper is the type of earnest faith-based film that indie faith-based audiences love, a quiet little film with an important story to tell and a willingness to allow the harsh realities of real life and a life of faith to weave themselves together into a tapestry where faith may not mean we don't suffer but it provides us the hope and inspiration to get through that suffering. There's no denying that pulling off military-themed films convincingly is difficult in the indie world, yet by focusing on the story its telling My Brother's Keeper is more successful than most. D.P. Brian Shanley accomplishes quite a bit here tasked with lensing both realistic war scenes and intimate urban conflicts, yet he does so with creativity and emotional honesty.
Original music by Evan Evans complements the film quite nicely while Steve Hullfish's editing work allows us time to become immersed in Fox's fractured and troubled mind.
Of course, My Brother's Keeper couldn't possibly work without its ensemble cast. This is a cast of mostly faith-based vets that understands the fine cinematic nuances of faith-based cinema and nicely brings forth both the necessary drama and elements of a convincing faith. Stallings is always a gem and capable of bringing out Fox's proud masculinity and vulnerability rather beautifully. As Donnie, Robert Ri'chard excels as a man in a situation way over his head. While I had some issues with the overly familiar relationship between Dr. Robertson and SFC Fox, it's wonderful to see Keshia Knight Pulliam in a quality project and she does terrific work here. While Joey Lawrence's appearance is relatively brief, he's another one whose presence is memorable within that brief period.
Among the supporting players, kudos must go to Gregory Alan Williams as Pops, Jeff Rose as Pastor Hood, and a disturbing Blue Kimble as the film's baddie Big Six.
While My Brother's Keeper isn't likely to have much in the way of crossover appeal, it's a strong faith-based effort that should undoubtedly appeal to fans of faith-based cinema and especially those who will appreciate its military theme. For more information on the film, visit the film's website linked to in the credits and watch for it this weekend in theaters.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic