Jackson Stone’s journey throughout the movie “Jackson’s Run” is mined with potentially rich subject matter. A teen bent on self-destructing at the movie’s beginning, he is doing all the wrong things with all the wrong people and shutting out his mother and younger brother in the process. But Jackson is more than a “typical” delinquent: His own behavior at the age of 13 led to a near-death overdose and left him with HIV. As “Jackson’s Run” opens, the virus inside of him, like the outer, negative influences in his life, are catching fire and threaten to burn out of control. Others in his world are experiencing their own life crises, too, and as they and Jackson try to find sense, strength, meaning and faith, the “Run” twists and turns and travels a difficult road.
Such a story, about a teenager infected with HIV, is a powerful one by itself. There is all too little said in the news and other media about the young lives who have been derailed by HIV and AIDS, and this movie does highlight the importance of compassion and care for this little-understood population. It also shines a faith-based light on this (and other) issues facing teens and adults alike, encouraging conversation, self-examination and journaling, and standing up to evil in many earthly forms.
But “Jackson’s Run” has other thematic story-lines, too, that involve Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, alcoholism, drug abuse, bullying, and, suicide. It’s a heavy line-up, and one that, unfortunately, does not have nearly enough time to fully realize itself. Although truly and well-acted, especially in moments where the dialogue stops and the characters are allowed to breathe, 85 minutes just isn’t enough for this story…which is why it is a perfect subject for this blog’s “Food for Thought” column.
On the surface, “Jackson’s Run” can be seen as a superficial treatment of extremely complex and difficult problems. But, one of the best elements of the film is how it showed that, for every wrong act committed, there are consequences – and we live with those consequences everyday. Christ’s sacrifice and our Salvation, then, become all the more precious. And all the more poignant, as our earthly lives continue to unfold. By loading the film with so many dark issues (and dark scenes – the lighting was an issue itself in a few spots, with disconcerting shadows and abrupt changes in film quality!), it made me very grateful for the light, the love of Christ, and the way that people can find a way back from blistering, winding, and awful runs of their own.
“Jackson’s Run” is not a perfect film. The dialogue could have been more intuitive, the storytelling more focused and, thus, made deeper, and the ending felt too-quickly and too-neatly tied up. But we, too, are not perfect, are we? And even so, as with the world of “Jackson’s Run,” we have much to learn and tell.
Blessings for the day,