Hypocrisy Eventually Trumps Salvation
Release Date: July 15, 2011
Starring: Greg Kinnear, Pierce Brosnan,
Jennifer Connelly, Marisa
Tomei, Ed Harris, Jim Gaffigan
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 95 minutes
Distributor: IFC Films
Director: George Ratliff
Executive Producer: Gary Hamilton, Victor Syrmis,
Scarlett Lacey, Andrew Sawyer,
Neil Katz, Nicholas Simunek,
Michael Bassick, Kirk
Producer: Cathy Schulman, Celine
Rattray, Peter Fruchtman
Writer: Doug Max Stone, George Ratliff
Address Comments To:Jonathan Sehring, President, IFC Films/IFC Entertainment
Joshua Sapan, President/CEO
Rainbow Media Holdings LLC (Independent Film Channel/IFC Films/IFC First Take/AMC/WE)
11 Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 324-8500
The movie stars Pierce Brosnan as a megachurch televangelist named Dan Day. Day accidentally shoots a famous atheist after engaging in a public and televised debate with him. After the debate, the atheist even admitted that Day was the first minister he ever felt matched his intellect in a debate on faith and belief in God.
The initial debate is well written and played, raising hopes that SALVATION BOULEVARD will prove to be a movie that discerning viewers could enjoy, but after Day shoots Blaylock, believing he’s dead, but actually just putting him in a short-term coma, he tries to cover up the incident until a top congregant named Carl sneaks off to call the police about the incident. Even these early moments work as a mix of tension and somewhat dark satire. By halfway in the movie, however, the movie’s tone becomes more shrill, manic and over-the-top, damaging the movie for believers and non-believers alike and leaving viewers with a disappointed feeling of mediocrity.
Along the way, Carl is pulled in multiple directions, between wanting to alert the authorities yet protect his pastor, and between maintaining his new godly life with an often-hysterical and always simple-minded wife, or running away with a pretty guard and leaping back into his old life as a Deadhead, a Grateful Dead fan. As he’s taken hostage by Day’s deranged right-hand man, Jerry, and threatened if he doesn’t lie to clear Day’s name in the shooting, practically everyone involved in the story starts behaving more manically and less realistically until the movie loses all plausibility and becomes a disappointing case of “what might have been.”
[SPOILERS FOLLOW] Ultimately, Day is shot by an enemy real-estate developer and winds up with a short prison term, Carl leaves the church to follow the Grateful Dead again and leaves his wife to live with the guard, and a female church member is destined to remain flagrantly fundamentalist while it’s revealed that her daughter fled home when she turned 18.
SALVATION BOULEVARD is the creation of writer-director George Ratliff, who admits having been raised in an evangelical home, but that he has rejected organized religion as an adult. As such, his agenda is blatantly clear. This is a movie that most discerning viewers should avoid, both as a middling attack on faith and an outright disappointment comically. Its simultaneous limited release in theatres and presence in On Demand on Cable TV at least helps ensure the movie won’t reach and affect negatively as many people as other wider releases with foul content.
After the first half hour shows the pastor successfully debate the atheist, SALVATION BOULEVARD starts to unravel. By halfway, the movie’s tone becomes more shrill, manic and over-the-top. Almost every character starts behaving more manically and less realistically until the movie loses all plausibility and becomes a disappointing case of “what might have been.” SALVATION BOULEVARD will please neither believers nor non-believers and includes plenty of foul language and an endorsement of marijuana use.