by Martin Hafer
During the last few years, there have been quite a few Christian inspirational films that have made their way to theaters. Some were pretty good and some were awfully bad (such as the rather mean spirited God is Not Dead). Well, one of the latest and best is The Meanest Man in Texas…a true story that is unusual in that it is great for all audiences…not just church goers.
Mateus Ward stars as Clyde Thompson, a man once termed ‘the meanest man in Texas’ by prison authorities. While I have never heard of young Ward before, based on his terrific performance, I think it’s a lock we’ll be seeing a lot more of him! Also quite impressive is Jamie McShane as Captain Colt. He has a lot of credits, but I can’t recall having seen him. All I know is that I was blown away at their performances and both left me wanting more.
The film begins with a senseless double murder. Three young men are the culprits and Clyde is sentenced to death for this. At this point, you can’t help but feel a bit sorry for him….as he’s incredibly young and the folks in town are screaming for his execution. Shortly before the execution, however, the governor commutes the sentence to life of hard labor. And, hard it is…with Clyde living a hellish existence which helps make him a vicious, bitter young man. He soon is shot while trying to escape and later ends up killing an inmate who tried to sexually assault him. Now, he’s a thrice convicted murderer…and not the least bit repentant as well as very angry. He also has another escape attempt to his credit as well as an attempted murder of another inmate! This is when he’s given the moniker ‘The Meanest Man in Texas’….and he certainly lives up to this. In fact, he’s so violent that the prison decides to put him in solitary confinement…where he remains for many years. What’s next? See the film.
There is just so much to admire about the film. In addition to the terrific acting, the story is very engaging and I appreciate that it sticks very close to Clyde’s real life—something all too rare with bio pics. In addition, the film looks very professional throughout—with excellent direction, editing and production values. Most importantly, while the story is about eventual redemption and Clyde’s conversion to God, it is never heavy-handed and the message is handled exceptionally well. I could see Atheists, Buddhists or anyone else enjoying this film and aside from very young children, the movie is something I heartily recommend for everyone. So, it’s not surprising that the film was recognized as the Best Feature Film for the Influx Magazine Film Awards. See this one.
Martin's Grade: AShare: