A Christmas Hero
When a young war vet returns home from Afghanistan, he struggles to find joy in the life he once knew. As he comes close to giving up all hope, his guardian angel pays a visit to show him there’s more meaning to his life than he’s ever known.
This might not be the most common definition, but a “hero” is someone who gets help from others and then moves forward. That is the essential theme of this emotionally-charged and dramatic movie.
Nick Averie is an Afghanistan veteran who couldn’t leave Afghanistan behind when he returned home. It resulted in the loss of his marriage as his volatile ways drove his wife away. Nick has attempted to exorcise his own demons, but he learns it will take facing them down with some help from people who care. Actor Michael Welch turns in a very good performance as Nick, as he acts out a man who is simmering below the surface, to a man withdrawn as well as a man with an explosive temper, which occasionally rears its ugly head.
The story opens with Nick accepting a new job and, humorously, he wishes himself luck before heading into the Air Zoo, a museum which houses a lot of World War 2 and historical planes. (Air Zoo is a real museum located in Kalamazoo, Michigan.) Nick meets his supervisor, Troy, an amiable man with lots of historical knowledge. He also meets Kristen, an outgoing and friendly co-worker, who just got slime on her uniform from a work project that went wrong! They help Nick adjust to his new job as a tour guide.
This is Nick’s first job following his war duty, so when he meets a man that had served in Vietnam, he finds common ground. Nick soon learns the challenges the museum faces when a restoration project, done by volunteers, is stopped due to a lack of funds to purchase parts for the planes. The museum needs $40,000, which it doesn’t have. Everyone wants to see the planes restored, but where will the money come from?
Nick receives word that his best friend in Afghanistan, Ben, was killed and his already simmering pot boils over with anger, frustration, and shouts of pain. But this movie is about fighting back to overcome obstacles and pain, and Nick will have to reach deep inside to find the strength to do so.
The film does incorporate some tense moments, but it also features lighter scenes, with a girl seeing one of the earliest planes and a more recent one, and noting the vast changes and improvements with the simple exclamation of, “Wow!” We see the innocence of kids and Nick remarks on this, saying that kids are untouched by the pain and darkness of this world.
In a fantasy sequence, a guardian angel named Michelle shows up to tell Nick he does indeed have some things to look forward to. She offers him hope. Nick thinks she is crazy, but she does seem to pop up at interesting times and knows things about him that no one else would know. Nick deals with his pain as he remembers his grandfather and the quarrels he had with his wife, as well as the pain he felt in losing his buddies in the war.
This movie, while offering hope, does contain the thought of suicide by Nick as well as his arguments and screaming at his wife.However, Nick is portrayed as a Christmas hero by finding the will to go on and to move ahead with his life. Veterans, as well as anyone who has lost hope, will benefit from seeing this dramatic movie. It is not intended for young children, so we are awarding it the Dove seal for Ages 12+.
The Dove Take:
A former U.S. solider battling PTSD learns what it means to heal as a guardian angel guides him through his new civilian job as an aircraft museum tour guide.