Under the Spotlight
Michael Steele (Randy Travis) has a great life, he is a successful Christian actor with everything going well and a potential award on its way. But then all of a sudden everything seems to go against him as he has to deal with a director who tries to make him film a scene he disagree with, a co-star who is hard to work with and tires it on with him plus the press twisting everything to make headlines out of it. And then their is a reoccurring dream that God and Satan have picked him to see if her can live the Sermon on the Mount as a Hollywood actor under constant scrutiny. As things start going wrong for him Michael finds himself questioning his own faith as he has to deal with plenty of issues.
It feels to me like "The Wager" is one of those movies where the director has forgotten that the audience hasn't seen the script and so he delivers what comes across like a disjointed narrative. Now in some ways this can be seen as a good thing as you have to pay attention in order to follow what is going on but in some ways this is not that sort of movie and so it makes much harder for the audience it is made for to watch.
Now in fact I don't actually know what sort of movie this is, yes it is Christian cinema and is about how hard it is for an actor to remain faithful to his beliefs in the world of entertainment. It is also about how every day things, such as being served with divorce papers from a failed marriage can pile on the pressure and make you question on your faith. But how many people can relate to the life of an actor and the world he lives in, that is the biggest problem that this movie has as whilst it works as a reminder for an already Christian audience that everyone has to remain strong when faced with various battles and temptations it goes one step too far.
But then there is a further curious side to "The Wager" because there are the dreams which Michael has about being chosen by God and Satan in a wager. There are some strange things going on as well such as a preacher on the TV talking about temptation and Michael being unable to switch the TV off and keep it off. It is again an element which is interesting but almost doesn't work because things are never explained properly for the audience.
Now "The Wager" is clearly another faith-based movie and as per usual it would be fair to say the production level isn't the best although a musical scene which sees Randy Travis singing has a nice music video feel to it. But whilst there are some usual flaws when it comes to production values it is watchable and the familiar names and faces help lift this when quite often these sorts of movies struggle with an unknown cast.
What this all boils down to is that "The Wager" is an interesting movie which certainly makes you think about what you watched and in truth makes you watch again once you understand what is going on. But whilst it themes speak past the setting of a Christian actor being challenged in life the decision to focus the story in the world of celebrity seems a curious one to me.