Film Review: Let There Be Light

Even believers will find it unconvincing.
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Let There Be Light represents a clearly personal family affair for former “Hercules” star Kevin Sorbo, who stars in and makes his directorial debut with the faith-based film. The screenplay was co-written by his real-life spouse Sam Sorbo, who plays his character's ex-wife, and their sons Braden and Shane appear as the couple's offspring. But while Christian audiences will no doubt embrace this heavily proselytizing drama, secular viewers are likely to feel like they've been accosted by a street corner preacher.

Sorbo plays Sol Harkens, a famed atheist whose latest best-selling book is entitled Aborting God (just one example of the film's lack of subtlety). At the story's beginning, he's seen debating a cleric (Gary Grubbs) and pretty much wiping the floor with him. Asking why God would take away his young son who died of cancer, Sol declares that his personal religion is "sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll" and compares the Catholic Church to ISIS. (It's one of many references to the terrorist organization in this film, which seems obsessed with it.)

Viewers will earn no points for guessing where the story goes from there. Shortly afterwards, Sam drives home drunk and gets into a car crash, winding up clinically dead for four minutes. While in that state he's reunited with his deceased son, who's bathed in light and tells his father, "You must go back!" He also drops the phrase that gives the film its title.

Despite a doctor patiently explaining that his vision was caused by his medical condition, Sol sees the light and devotes himself to Jesus. He also goes to see "Pastor Vinny" (Michael Franzese), a former "wise guy" who actually utters such expressions as "Jesus gets whacked, right?" and, having apparently watched too many episodes of “The Sopranos,” "Bada-bing!"

After getting baptized by the tough-talking priest, Sol begins wooing back his ex-wife. Together, they come up with the idea for a proselytizing phone app that sends beams of light all over the world, including such godless places as China and North Korea (or something like that, it's hard to tell). Just as the project is getting off the ground, tragedy strikes, in a plot development that would have embarrassed the screenwriters of 1930s-era melodramas.

Besides the cameos by Dionne Warwick, who sings a gospel number, and country singer Travis Tritt (as an oncologist, of all things), the film also features a brief appearance by Sean Hannity, who also executive produced. The Fox News personality plays himself, and somehow manages to be unconvincing. But then again, the character is hardly credible. That the screenplay includes references to the exact numbers of his radio listeners and broadcast viewers is surely coincidental.

Sorbo is appealing and believable in the lead role, but he's unable to overcome the hoary plotting and dialogue that give the proceedings the feel of a badly written sermon. The supporting performances are fairly awful across the board, including Daniel Roebuck, embarrassedly playing Sol's flouncing agent who makes Edward Everett Horton seem macho.--The Hollywood Reporter

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