Story

Based on true events, Breakthrough is about 14-year-old John Smith (Marcel Ruiz), who falls through thin ice while playing with friends out on a lake.

The adopted son of a devout Christian couple, Joyce and Brian Smith (Chrissy Metz and Josh Lucas), John is under water for over 15 minutes and is unresponsive for 45 minutes before being pronounced dead at the hospital. John’s mother says a heartfelt and emotional prayer over her son’s lifeless body, begging God to breathe life back into her child. Almost as soon as these words are uttered, John’s heart begins to beat again. It’s weak and he isn’t expected to survive, but John keeps defying the odds.

With Pastor Jason’s (Topher Grace) emotional support and Dr Garrett’s (Dennis Haysbert) medical care, Joyce and Brian find the strength to endure criticism, despair and heartbreak. Joyce believes that God will save her son. Despite the evidence indicating that John’s recover is medically impossible, Joyce has absolute faith that he’ll be healed. As the community comes together to pray, countless hearts around the nation are touched and lives are changed by the miracle that only one woman sees coming.

Themes

Christian faith; adoption; serious accident with the possibility of death; devout faith in God in the face of impossible odds

Violence

Breakthrough has some minor violence. For example, John and a classmate shove each other after a disagreement on the basketball court.

Sexual references

Breakthrough has some sexual references, including when the boys in John’s class say that they are going to see some ‘hot girls’.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

There’s no use of substances in Breakthrough.

Nudity and sexual activity

There’s no nudity or sexual activity in Breakthrough.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in Breakthrough:

  • John has a pair of Nike Air Jordans that are prominently displayed in his room and mentioned on several occasions. His mother brings with them with her to the hospital to inspire her son to heal. When John returns to school he wears the shoes on his first day back and during his next basketball game.
  • Dunkin donuts are offered to staff, and Pastor Jason brings Starbucks coffee to Joyce every day in the hospital.
  • Pastor Jason preaches to his congregation using detailed examples from The Bachelor and The Bachelor in Paradise as analogies.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in Breakthrough. For example, the term ‘Hell’ is used twice. John starts to say ‘bull-’, but his mother stops him from finishing the phrase. ‘Stupid’ is used once.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Breakthrough is an emotional drama based on the miraculous, true story of John Smith. All the actors give excellent performances and although the movie has many powerful and positive messages, it’s best suited to older children and mature audiences. It’s important to be aware that this movie contains strong Christian messages and themes.

These are the main messages from this movie:

  • We all have a purpose in life.
  • It’s important to trust in a higher power.
  • Unconditional love is a powerful force.
  • ‘Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose’.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include gratitude, determination, faith, unconditional love, hope and prayer.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like not listening to safety advice – for example, not listening when adults tell you not to play on ice. You could use the scenario in this movie as an example for other dangerous situations.

You might want to talk with your children about faith, community support and the power of prayer (or equivalent).