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A scene from ‘Bennett’s War’. Image Credit: Supplied

If a heartwarming family drama sounds just about right, look no further than this weekend’s cinema release, ‘Bennett’s War’. Directed by Alex Renarivelo, the film follows a wounded US veteran’s journey to healing and touches on themes of war, PTSD, rehabilitation and familial issues. And throw in the world of motor racing and you have an engaging sports and family drama at hand.

Here’s everything you need to know about the film:

Premise

Soldier Marshall Bennett (Michael Roark) returns back home after sustaining injuries from an improvised explosive device overseas. When he learns his father (Trace Adkins) is behind on his mortgage payments, Marshall turns to competitive racing to save the family farm.

Cast

Michael Roark stars in the leading role as Marshall Bennett, a US Army sergeant serving with a Rangers’ motorcycle unit in Afghanistan. Roark is an actor, producer and a licensed attorney, known for his roles in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (2012) and ‘Magic Mike’ (2012).

Country singer and actor Trace Adkins plays the role of Bennett’s father. Adkins made his musical debut in 1996 with the album ‘Dreamin’ Out Loud’. Since then, he has released 10 more studio albums and two Greatest Hits compilations. In addition, he has charted more than 20 singles on the Billboard country music charts.

Iranian-American actor-producer Ali Ashfar stars as best friend and comic relief Cyrus in the film. The prolific entertainer most recently produced and starred in the Netflix holiday romance, ‘A California Christam: City Lights’. He also starred in ‘Saved by the Bell: The New Class’, 1998’s ‘Godzilla’ and ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’.

Allison Paige, known for her role as Gigi Darcy in the TV shows ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries ‘ and ‘Welcome to Sanditon’, plays Bennett’s wife Sophie.

Director

Alex Ranarivelo is a French filmmaker known for his sports dramas. After making his feature film debut with the romantic comedy ‘Alpha Males Experiment (aka Knuckle Draggers)’, Ranarivelo was hired to direct the action film ‘Born to Race’, which he co-wrote with fellow Art Center alum Steven Sarno.

When producer Ali Afshar and executive producer Forrest Lucas created ESX Entertainment, Ranarivelo was brought on to direct their first film, ‘The Dog Lover’. He then went on to direct ‘American Wrestler: The Wizard’, which follows a 17-year-old Iranian refugee who becomes the high school wrestling champion during the Iran hostage crisis of 1980. The film won numerous awards on the festival circuit including Best Picture and Best Ensemble at the Boston Film Festival, the audience award at the Austin Film Festival and the audience award at the Napa Film Festival.

Ranarivelo returned to the motorsports world for ‘Dirt’, his fifth movie with ESX Entertainment.

The director also worked on the film ‘The Ride’, about a troubled boy from a Neo-Nazi family who is sent to a juvenile detention centre after stabbing his dad and ends up being fostered by an interracial couple. The film is based on the true story of Scottish BMX rider John Buultjens.

What’s in a number?

Some trivia for the motocross fans: Director Ranarivelo chose the number 32 to be Marshall’s number because one of his personal favourite cars is the Mark IV Volkswagen R32.

Reviews

Variety’s Dennis Harvey wrote: “Modest but enjoyable, with some exciting race footage, [‘Bennett’s War’] should provide an inviting alternative for audiences on the lookout for inspirational family-friendly fare who’ve already seen the more overtly faith-oriented ‘Overcomer’.”

The Quad-City Times’ Linda Cook says: “An above-average, fast-paced story about recovery and grit, ‘Bennett’s War’ has its moments, especially when it comes to the challenges injured veterans face when they return home.”

Don’t miss it!

‘Bennett’s War’ is coming to UAE cinemas on April 1.