Adapted from Senator John McCain's memoir of the same name (penned with help from Mark Salter), the made-for-TV biopic Faith of My Fathers is a brutal, harrowing exploration of the nearly six years McCain spent as a Vietnam prisoner of war. While the film strives to pull no punches and present the experience in as unflinching a manner as possible, it still feels as though the filmmakers shied away from unremitting brutality.
Originally broadcast on A&E, Faith of My Fathers stars Shawn Hatosy as McCain, a performance that requires equal parts hysterics and understated calm. The film flashes back between the horror of McCain's POW situation (he crashlands, suffering a shattered leg in the process) and his life leading up to his involvement in the Vietnam War.
Dovetailing with his almost hallucinatory reminisces is a surface exploration of McCain's relationship with his stern Navy captain father Jack (Scott Glenn); much like the Vietnam War, not much is established or pursued beyond the fact that McCain's difficult relationship with his father (much like his trials and tribulations at the "Hanoi Hilton") helped shape his outlook and approach to life in the following years.
Co-starring Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (who, along with Hatosy and Glenn, lend some weight to what would otherwise be a throwaway movie of the week), directed by Peter Markle and co-written by Markle and William Bingham, Faith of My Fathers is a competent, unremarkable look at the crucible in which one of America's most visible politicians was wrought.
Faith of My Fathers is offered in a crisp, clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that fairly pops off the screen – the film boasts a vintage look at times and the prison scenes are dark, but never grainy. A very nice image, as befits a recently released film.
Dolby Digital 5.1 is the only audio option offered and it's perfectly serviceable – every thud and groan is heard without distortion or drop-out. The few action sequences involving flying pack a considerable punch and the dialogue is never overwhelmed by the score.
The lone extra of any significance included on the disc is a five minute, 45 second "Conversation with Senator John McCain on the Set of 'Faith of My Fathers,'" which is exactly that. Also on board are trailers for The Cave, Rescue Me, Final Fantasy 7, Steamboy, DEBS and The Brooke Ellison Story.
There's no arguing that John McCain has certainly played a considerable role in helping shape America's political landscape in the last few years – the filmic adaptation of McCain's memoir, Faith of My Fathers is admirable in its efforts to show where McCain's indomitable resolve originated but doesn't really wow you. Recommended for rental.