By: Russ Matthews
Dennis Quaid’s career has become a series of faith-based films over the past few decades.
I Can Only Imagine, American Underdog, and Soul Surfer were sprinkled within his prolific acting schedule, making him a genre mainstay. His latest film has him teaming up with Soul Surfer’s director, Sean McNamara, once again, with them going from the ocean to the open skies.
Another true story that occurred over the Easter weekend in 2009, Doug White (Quaid) and his family are travelling back home from a funeral. The pharmacist hires a friend to fly the private charter back from Marco Island, Florida, as they make their way to Louisiana. Yet, once they are in the air, the pilot dies suddenly of a heart attack, and Doug has to figure out how to land the plane safely. Despite having only one flying lesson, he needed to become more familiar with the aircraft or what he needed to do to get his family back down on the ground. Thankfully he was in contact with the air traffic controllers at Fort Myers, who connected him with a flight instructor who would do all they could to guide him to safety.
What is compelling about the White’s harrowing plane ride was captured on screen in the onboard terror and the work of the fast-thinking air traffic controllers. Each layer of the various characters’ lives that were included made this film believable and should draw audiences into this life-or-death tale. McNamara did all he could to maintain the tension over the film’s length, and the script provided the pressure to add in the faith elements to gain its audience. Yet, these elements fail to salvage these accounts from being a stock standard faith-based film.
Understandably, there is value in getting a Hollywood actor attached to these projects. Still, it is hard to believe that this ageing star is married to Heather Graham (Boogie Nights) or the father of teenage girls. Then the screenplay struggles to get the White’s story off the ground as it relies on cliched family drama and faith elements that make many of the lines cringe-worthy for even the most faithful fans. The baffling inclusion of the young girl monitoring the whole incident from her bedroom becomes an unnecessary inclusion while adding some narrative filler to make this short trip a feature-length film.
On a Wing and a Prayer had all of the right intentions, and this family story contained many engaging components. Yet, in the end, this movie did not have a prayer of landing with its intended audience.
Reel Dialogue: How does Prayer Work?
“In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” – John 16:23–24
Prayer is a gift for humanity to talk with God, we have the opportunity to talk with Him, spend time with Him and draw closer to Him in the good and bad times of life. There is no need to pray through a statue, to have special headgear on or to wait for a ‘professional’ to give you access, prayer is something anyone can do anywhere.
This time of communicating with God allows people to give thanks, share requests and express adoration for His presence in their lives. The one catch is a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. God can hear everything and knows your needs, but to access this relationship is to believe in God. In the Bible, Jesus told his followers to pray in His name, which means to speak confidently in His authority, based on a connection with Him, for what would honour and glorify God.
There is a beautiful simplicity to prayer, while an indescribable complexity to all it offers to those who pray.
Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.
All images: Movie stills
About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.