There have been many people throughout history who have claimed to hear the voice of god, you can find a lot of them on those channels waayy down in the depths of your TV guide.
It’s 2024 and Caleb, Embry Johnson (“The Dead”, “The Twins”), isn’t your everyday, average 14-year-old boy. This particular 14-year-old boy is hearing the voice of god and has, thus far, predicted two strange events. One was a worldwide passing-out by everyone for three minutes, the second was a strange, glowing orb which can be seen and photographed but not touched.
Writer and director Nathan Leon (“Limbo (Short)”, “The Sidewalk Chronicles”) adapts his short film Limbo into this, nearly two-hour, journey of discovery.
It has echoes of Midnight Special, only Prodigy leans heavily on the faith storyline rather than the supernatural per-say. Because of this, it’s fair to say Prodigy is going to divide a lot of people, some will love it for its message of hope and love, whilst others will hate it and call it a work of blasphemy.
As Caleb is the only person to have made these predictions, a shady US government organisation have stepped in, along with the FBI, and taken Caleb for experimentation and to find out what the third, and final, event that he says is coming, actually is.
But Caleb throws a spanner in the works when he says he will only talk to his estranged father Erik, Cory Kays (“Looking For Andrew”, “Exhausted And Confused”) – sounding a lot like the late, great Bill Paxton at times – an alcoholic who misses their deceased mother.
Erik decides to become father of the year all of a sudden and break his son out of the, strangely open, quarters the government have him in and take him to the destination, so he can receive the third message.
Prodigy is a sprawling epic of a movie, made for a relatively small budget of usual sprawling epics. There are obvious issues that the constraints of the budget have created, it’s the usual things of locations looking familiar, cars being reused, the ‘worldwide’ aspects being talked about but never seen etc.
However, at its core, Prodigy has a great storyline and, particularly early in the movie, has some nice touches with the camera from Leon.
Kays does very well as Caleb’s father, at times it’s unnerving how Bill Paxton-like he is. It’s a nice performance. Johnson on the other hand I was less convinced by. He mumbles his lines, looks vacant behind the eyes and the overall performance feels lifeless, not what you’d expect someone to be like who’s hearing the voice of god, surely that would give you a spring in your step at least?
Along the way the twosome become a threesome when they pickup bartender Maya, Hailey Henry (“All Hell Breaks Loose”, “Star Chief”), who wants to believe Caleb at all costs, her own faith shaken after loosing her little boy.
Besides the government agency chasing after Caleb we also have a couple of rogues; these are forgettable characters (apart from one of them looking like a Shoreditch Hipster, top-knot included), who have little to say, even less of a backstory and are dispatched with ease.
Prodigy is far from perfect: it’s overly long, some of the characters are wafer thin, some of the acting is poor and you need to get past the fact a drunk father, who hasn’t seen his son in ten years, manages to escape a group of soldiers with high-powered rifles and a dog.
Putting that aside though, it is compelling, you sense there are the guts of a really nice story here, a boy bringing a message of hope and love from god to the world. It just feels a little too late to the party.