Review: "Unplanned" Pulls Back Curtain on Abortion Giant
This pro-life Christian film does not send a shot across the bow, but rather punches a gaping hole in Planned Parenthood's hull.
Unplanned is a true story based on a book by the same name from former abortion clinic director-turned-pro-life-advocate Abby Johnson. The film was written and directed by Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, the team behind the God's Not Dead movies, and features Christian actress Ashley Bratcher in the lead role of Johnson.
The picture starts at the end, showing the moment that changed everything for Johnson, prompting her to not only leave Planned Parenthood, but join the right-to-life cause. It then jumps back several years to lay out how she arrived at that point. Christian Film Blog is not a fan of that approach to cinematic storytelling, as it reveals the resolution right out of the gate, but in this case the filmmakers seemed to pull it off.
Two other devices employed extremely liberally, which we are not usually enamored with, are fading to black to end scenes and voice-over narration to fill in the back story. Bratcher does the latter throughout the film and the fading to black happened enough that we lost count. While these devices were a bit distracting, they did not detract from the overall story.
Those trivialities aside, this film deals a hammer blow to the myth proferred by Planned Parenthood about its business being primarily women's reproductive healthcare: it's really all about baby body-count equaling big bucks, as the filmmakes crystal clear. The pro-life movement has long been able to smell the festering wound that is that lie, but now Unplanned rips the bandage off to reveal it in all its unsavory gore, so to speak.
To be sure, that is at times a difficult spectacle to behold, particularly during the scene at the beginning in which Bratcher's character is called in to assist in an abortion. While there is some actual gore - not more than is necessary for the sake of realism - the ultrasound imagery of a baby squirming to escape the abortionist's tool of death is one that you will not be able to un-see, as the saying goes. It is a truly haunting visual.
Bratcher, Emma Elle Roberts, and Robia Scott all turn in strong performances. Scott, in her role as a Planned Parenthood honcho, and thus the villain in the piece, is particularly convincing. In fact, so much so that it's a bit baffling as to why she chooses not to be a more regular presence on the big screen. The perfomances from the male cast members were a bit more uneven, but not to such a degree that they detract from the film.
Unplanned does use some tact and nuance in its presentation of the issues, specifically in distinguishing the loving, forgiving Christian pro-life protestors outside the clinic from harsh, shouting Grim Reaper-types who stand nearby them. The former treat Abby Johnson compassionately, as they did in real life, and ultimately welcome her into their ranks.
Thus, at its heart, this is really a story about Christian forgiveness and redemption, played out through Johnson's conversion journey. The real-world supporters of Planned Parenthood and other abortion purveyors will no doubt have a tough time seeing that though, and we suspect they'll largely endeavor to ignore or suppress the movie as they did with another recent pro-life film about abortionist Kermit Gosnell.
Christian Film Blog rates Unplanned an eight out of 10 and recommends that you go see it this weekend. As to letting young children watch, it seems to us that one could justifiably make the case the "R" rating is warranted, because the abortion scenes, though few, are quite raw in their realism. Consider yourself forewarned.
Finally, a few anecdotal points of interest. This is the first time we've been to a faith-based film where the audience clapped en masse at the end. It was a good turn out, too. We tallied 80 some people, and it wasn't one large group either. That's nearly 10 times the number that typically shows up at this particular Phoenix-area theater for a Thursday night preview of a movie like this. It will be interesting to see if that portends commercial success for Unplanned.