“Priceless” receives a poor review this movie season

The movie “Priceless” was directed by Ben Smallbone and opened in theaters on Oct. 14, 2016. Reportedly, the movie is based on “true events,” but I am not sure at what level they are true. The film received some good reviews from viewers, but film critics have expressed disappointment. 

 The movie is essentially a promotion for the Priceless Movement which is a Christian movement to end human trafficking and sex trafficking. While the overall message of the movie is a great one, my task is not to critique the message. My task is to critique the movie.

The film is about a widower, James (Joel Smallbone) who has lost custody of his daughter and is overall down on his luck. Desperate for money and hoping to regain custody of his daughter, he agrees to drive a truck across country — no questions asked.  After running off of the side of the road, he finds out he is transporting two sisters from Mexico. He treats them well but keeps driving them to his drop off. Afterwards, he needs the money, and they seem willing to go. However, it turns out they are being delivered to a pimp. James is now in a predicament. On top of the obvious moral dilemma, he has fallen in love with the older sister (Bianca A. Santos) and will do anything to free them both.

The story alone had the potential to be so much more than what I saw on screen. The pacing was good, but the editing within scenes was choppy and awkward. The first 10 minutes of the movie relies heavily on voice-over narration by the main character to catch us up at the beginning of the movie. A well-done film would have either presented a flashback scene leading to the present or provided the audience with just enough loose clues to allow for understanding. Unfortunately, “Priceless” provided blatant clues and inserted the awkward extended narrative. The film included some beautiful shots, but these were spoiled by poor and even cheesy editing.

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While “Priceless” seeks to garner attention to a noble movement, it is not a good film.  It is a film with an agenda but poorly made. The dialogue was forced and every character had the mind of a philosopher. The unrealistic aspects of the script made it nearly unwatchable. Although the director ultimately accomplished his goal of promoting the Priceless Movement and its values, I believe that the film could have been more effective. All it needed was a better script, more realistic character interplay and better editing and cast selection.

This movie, reviewed strictly as a film, receives a four out of 10.

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