Here is a gritty Western, featuring dramatic music and solid acting. The film opens with a bounty hunter named Jebediah showing up at a home where the lady of the house is hanging up laundry. He claims he is selling a rattlesnake elixir. The woman, Martha, is apprehensive and when she hears a gunshot in the distance, she tells the man that her husband is near, and about to return home. So, for the moment, the man rides off. Jeremiah, Martha’s husband, was hunting with their daughter, Hope. Jeremiah is a man of the cloth, and his wife teases him before they leave that he’d better come back loaded down with grouse. Jeremiah’s daughter is a real crack shot, and he teases her that if people find out she’s a gunslinger, they’ll never live it down.
The family has held a close relationship which will soon be challenged. Jeremiah gives Hope a beautiful scarf as a gift, and he tells her she’s looking more like her mother. He speaks of his marriage to Martha and says they have been like two trees, sometimes standing straight and sometimes bending.
There are several moments of violence in the film, including the man who has hired Jebediah. When Jebediah catches up to the gang, a young man is told to shoot him because he didn’t bring Martha back. The young man can’t so the older man, and leader of the pack, shoots him, but Jebediah survives the gunshot wound.
The story is set in Last Chance, Arizona, and a new church building is planned, and Jeremiah will pastor the congregation. Included in the film is Jeremiah reading scripture from Proverbs about wisdom. And Jeremiah will need wisdom when the unspeakable happens: his daughter is kidnapped.
Jeremiah gets the sheriff involved and he doesn’t offer much help at first. And Martha, a fugitive, pulls a gun on the sheriff, but the sheriff’s wife, Bonnie, helps Jeremiah and Martha escape. And, as Martha tells Jeremiah, if they cross this threshold there is no going back. There are a few surprises in the movie, including Martha’s real first name, and the fact that her father is searching for her. However, her father’s approach isn’t ethical, and suspense builds as to how it will all pan out. The gang helping Martha’s father out is called the “House Gang” and one of the riders in the gang states, “The house always wins!” But will it?
Following these incidents, Hope meets a man called William Bridges, who tells Hope he is her grandfather. But as Jeremiah and Martha search for their daughter they find a clue: Hope’s scarf left on a branch as a sign for them to follow. The sheriff soon follows them and Bonnie, handing him some lunch, tells him, “Help them, help them if you can.” In the meantime, Jeremiah confesses to Martha she is better with a gun than he is, as his experience with a gun is limited to getting grouse and squirrels! Hope soon opens up to a young gang member, who calls himself the “Diamond Kid,” and he seems out of place in the gang. He is drawn to Hope, and she learns that he was raised as an orphan.
Things to think about: The bounty hunter, Jebediah, kidnaps Hope but she manages to get the upper hand. There are shootings in the film, and a character is struck by a rock, but the positive includes the love of a family who is determined to be together. Also, the reading of scripture by the pastor (Psalms and Proverbs) is read, including a passage about not fearing evil, and that the Lord is nigh unto the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
In the end, there is a showdown between Martha and her father, and the father threatens to kill Jeremiah, saying, “Till death do you part.” We won’t spoil the ending, but we will say that good does prevail. And there is a great Christian song played during the closing credits about God sheltering His people, and that His people can always come home to Him.
The movie has earned our Dove Seal for Ages 12+.
THE DOVE TAKE: Birthright Outlaw features action and shoot-outs, but with a moral fiber woven throughout, and kids ages 12+ should enjoy sharing the experience of watching the film with their parents.