On Wednesday evening, I had the opportunity to attend an advance screening of the The Genesis Code prior to its nationwide release in February. The movie was directed by C. Thomas Howell, and the cast includes former Presidential candidate Fred Thompson (Law and Order), and Academy Award Winners Ernest Borgnine (Marty) and Louise Fletcher (One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest).
In the movie, Kerry Wells (Kelsey Sanders) is a college journalist and the daughter of a local Protestant minister who is struggling to find her place in an increasingly secular world as a devout bible Christian. Blake Truman (Logan Bartholomew) is the college’s newest and very popular hockey superstar who secretly spends his nights at the bedside of his comatose, terminally-ill mother. What happens when Kerry gets assigned interview Blake? The Genesis Code tells the story of Blake’s grudging conversion through his interaction with Kerry, his own suffering, and his grandparents’ decision to “pull the plug” on his Mom. Sounds at least somewhat compelling, doesn’t it? Here are 7 things you should know before deciding to go see it.
- Christian moral themes and family values are heavily featured. Early in the movie, Kerry boldly and comfortably asserts that she is saving herself for marriage. Other scenes include family dinner and group prayer. Non-Christian characters and activities are generally portrayed rather negatively.
- The clash between Christianity and the “new” atheism is real and present on college campuses. This theme is largely the foundation of the movie. Regardless of how well or poorly this might be presented, The Genesis Code does highlight this reality. If you doubt this, I encourage you to read The Loser Letters by Mary Eberstadt.
- Much of the dialog is awkward and contrived. When Kerry rejects Blake’s initial advances and asserts her chastity, he replies, “I suppose you’re probably a believer.” How did believer ever become a synonym for Christian, as if it doesn’t really matter what you believe? Does anyone actually use that word, aside from self-described believers? In another scene, Kerry’s academic adviser strongly encourages her to put aside “your outmoded, childish notions of absolute biblical truth” so she can “take your place among the elite class in the new world order.” Seriously?! These are just two examples; nearly every scene left me thinking, “People don’t talk like this.”
- The movie is very ambitious. The Genesis Code attempts to tackle many themes: chastity, euthanasia, the power of prayer, collegiate secularism, scientific atheism, Darwin evolutionism vs. fundamental biblical creationism, etc. Simply, it’s way too much.
- The story takes a backseat to the agenda. The plot never authentically develops and is interrupted at one point by a very contrived An Inconvenient Truth style “tutorial” presented by three college physics students, including Kerry’s brother. The purpose of this is to show that “science” can explain how the creation story in Genesis could have actually happened in six days. This is presented as a real, genuine explanation, but the science is at least partially fictitious and uses terminology that is never explained. However, since the characters buy it, you’re supposed to buy it, too. It goes on way too long and effectively kills any shred of plot development.
- The ending is …. Okay, I won’t give it away in the event you decide to see the movie. However, the movie could have partially redeemed itself with a different ending. Instead, it goes for the obvious and predictable.
- The theology is weak. By trying to present a mock-scientific rationale for the literal biblical creation story, the movie effectively dismisses faith in favor of knowledge. The premise essentially reduces to God to something we can know without actually having a relationship with Him; it takes the “god” out of God. Isn’t faith supposed to surpass all understanding? The movie defeats its own purpose. Supernatural realities cannot be explained purely by natural reason. I wonder if there are plans for a sequel called The Gospel Code, which explains away the resurrection.