Dispatched, which is currently on Prime, is a low-budget film about a cop named Carl Thomas (Jeff Moore) who has an anger problem and a bad reputation. Even though he makes a lot of arrests and gets a lot of criminals off the streets, his chief (Dean Cain) keeps having to reprimand him for using excessive force.
Anyway, one night, Carl is convinced to go to a revival meeting with some of his fellow police officers. Carl witnesses a faith healing and, overnight, becomes the world most committed and outspoken Christian. Suddenly, he’s able to give up his anger and now, whenever he arrests anyone, he treats them with compassion. He tells them to follow Christ and get their lives together. He goes down to the jail and he passes out bibles. And….
Well, actually, that’s pretty much the entire film. There’s really not much conflict to be found in Dispatched. Admittedly, Carl’s first wife does divorce him because she can’t handle his sudden zeal for religion but most of that happens off-screen. After the divorce, we don’t hear anything else about his ex-wife or his children from his first marriage. We’re also repeatedly told that Carl was violent before he witnessed that faith healing but again, we don’t seem much evidence of it. We do see Carl overreacting during a traffic stop and he definitely doesn’t come across as being the type of cop that anyone would want to deal with but, at the same time, the film shies away from showing us anything that could make us really dislike Carl. That’s a mistake on the filmmaker’s part. For a film about any type of redemption to work, you have to actually have to see some sort of difference between who the main character was before being redeemed and who the main character is afterwards.
That said, I can’t be too hard on Dispatched because, in the end, it’s a low budget message film. The underlying message itself — that anger can be just as much of an addiction as any drug and that anyone can be redeemed if they’re truly willing to do the work — is not a bad one. However, I think this is the type of movie that will be best appreciated by people who already agree with its religious theme. If you’re like me and you tend to be a bit skeptical, you’ll probably zone out once the faith healing begins. If you’re a believer in revival meetings and faith healings, you might have less of a problem with it all. This is a film that preaches to the choir. I doubt it will win over any nonbelievers but the choir might enjoy it and you know what? There’s nothing wrong that. The choir deserves to be entertained. The real Carl Thomas appears at the end of the film. He comes across as being sincere person, which is always a nice thing.
Anyway, Dispatched really wasn’t for me but I’m not going to criticize it the way I would a studio film with a 200 million dollar budget. It’s a well-intentioned film, one that was made for a very specific audience and while will probably be most appreciated by those who already share its worldview.