Movies that have a religious center are sometimes a little hard for me to handle. Being of a Christian background, I grow a little tired of films that paint folks who embrace religion as fanatics, nutcases, or hypocritical. The truth of the matter is that the great majority of religious folks are quiet and unassuming, but the loudmouths are the ones who get all the attention and therefore are seen as the rule as opposed to the exception.
That said, I do have a bit of an issue with organized religion, so I’m not so troubled when a film paints a picture of huge mega-churches being out of control. I’ve had enough involvement with those to know what goes on behind the scenes, and “Salvation Boulevard” is a pretty good example of how actions are covered up within the big churches.
“Salvation Boulevard” stars Pierce Bosnan as Pastor Dan Day, who not only sits as the head of a huge and powerful church, but actually plans to build a community around it, thereby cementing his egomaniacal nature…. and allowing even more funds to be funneled into his eagerly awaiting pocketbook. Unfortunately, Pastor Dan becomes involved in an accidental shooting of a famed atheist (Ed Harris) and as it wouldn’t do him any good to be implicated, he plots to frame one of his own brethren. Enter Greg Kinnear as Carl Vanderveer, an ex druggie, Grateful Dead head and witness to the shooting.
Poor Carl doesn’t even know what’s hit him. Having had his life turned around by the church, with the help of his wife (Jennifer Connolly), he now has his life turned upside down by his would be saviors. With everyone against him, his only help comes in the form of a college security guard… and Deadhead stoner… Honey (Marisa Tomei).
“Salvation Boulevard” boasts a strong cast…. heck… an amazing cast and an interesting premise. But while I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it to some degree, the film never quite hit the marks that it should have. Part comedy, part thriller… it mostly fell a bit flat at all the wrong places. All of the performances were strong, but the material the cast had to work with wasn’t strong in and of itself. There were times I felt the film should have worked to make a stronger point in regards to the emotions that fueled the character’s actions, but it never quite did.
The Sony DVD, out this week doesn’t offer anything beyond the film. There are no extra features, save for some trailers of other movies. And the transfer was surprisingly dark, at least in the scenes shot inside or on set. The outside scenes looked fine, however. Sound-wise the film faired a little bit better, with a little bit of ambient noise to fill out the rear channels.
I cannot really recommend a purchase for “Salvation Boulevard” as it didn’t leave a strong mark, and really isn’t worth multiple viewings. Again, I would have preferred a little more of the hypocrisy inherent with the mega-churches to have been explored and perhaps it would have been a more enjoyable film.
Directed by: George Ratliff
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Connolly, Ed Harris, Greg Kinnear, Marisa Tomei, Isabelle Fuhrman, Ciaran Hinds, Jim Gaffigan, Yul Vazquez
Release Date: 9/18/2012
MPAA Rating: R