Directed by: Sean McNamara
Distributed by: Amazon Studios
Written by Alexander Reams
Endeavors in filmmaking by religious and propaganda groups are often doomed to fail before they even begin. The idea of taking this medium and creating a piece of pure propaganda without paying attention to the basic aspects of filmmaking is a bastardization. As for the experience of watching it, “On a Wing and a Prayer” is little more than an exercise in checking your watch as you see Quaid go beat-by-beat through the typical plot points as he overcomes the usual “crisis of faith” tropes that are standard for most faith films of this sort. From an inability to land a plane at all in the opening of the movie to being forced to pilot a plane after a pilot dies is a lot to throw at a single character, and it sure feels like it.
Quaid’s Doug White is a family man who’s trying to raise his children well, his daughter Maggie White (Jessi Case) provides an unnecessary subplot that is relegated to a few chewing-out scenes but nothing substantive. The main plot is little more than the sort of barebones exposition you’re used to where they disguise emotional moments in an attempt to manipulate their audience. The main subplot offers brief glimpses of hope through the performance of Jesse Metcalf as Kari Sorenson, who acts with enough aloofness to seem real in a film full of exaggeration and overperformance from the rest of its cast.
The back and forth between Quaid’s White and Metcalf’s Sorenson have some moments of chemistry but the acting energy is mismatched. There’s little room for banter between the two, which is often what makes films like this bearable. The sequences in the plane are coupled with dreadful CGI that causes it to feel like a bad 90s TV movie. He repairs the relationship with Maggie and his marriage to Terri (Heather Graham) in a fashion that slowly reveals itself to be a giant waste of time. But “On a Wing and a Prayer” pushes its religious narrative, and for a film with this sort of an intended audience, that’s all that matters.
“On a Wing and a Prayer” Trailer