When Mac McDonald (Michael Joiner) loses his son in an accident, the ensuing 17 years of bitterness and pain erodes his love for his family and leaves him angry with almost everyone, including God. Mac's rage damages his career in the police department, and his household is as frightening as anything he encounters on the streets of Memphis. Money is tight, arguments with his wife are common, and his surviving son Blake is hanging with the wrong crowd and in danger of failing school.
Things become heated when Mac is partnered with Sam Wright (Mike Higgenbottom), a rising star on the force who happens to be a part-time pastor and a family man. Sam never expected to be a police officer. He feels called to be a minister like his grandfather. In addition to leading a small, start-up church, Sam works as a police officer to provide for his family. When he gets promoted to Sergeant, however, Sam starts questioning if his true calling might be police work.
Can Sam and Mac somehow join forces or is it nearly impossible for either of them to look past their differences, especially their race?
Filming for The Grace Card began in Memphis, Tennessee on October 14, 2009. The climax of the film was shot at Messiah Missionary Baptist Church on Chelsea. Other locations included St. Francis Hospital and the downtown banks of the Mississippi River. Screenwriter Howard Klausner explained, "We look at this project as Fireproof 2.0. The Sherwood Baptist guys have opened up a door for all of us, proving that faith-based features can stand up in the marketplace... Maybe it’s just because so few films coming out of Hollywood reflect the values we [Christians] hold dear."
The Calvary Church of the Nazarene in Cordova was the film's "sponsoring church." Church volunteers worked in the catering, wardrobe, hair and makeup departments, in addition to the professional filmmakers who handled the film's technical aspects. Director David Evans said about 90 percent of the 40 full-time crew members were Mid-Southerners, as were almost all the 100-plus supporting actors and extras. They volunteered more than 10,000 hours, working day and night to shoot the film in 28 days. The film's budget was only $200,000.
On its opening day of wide release, The Grace Card grossed $360,000, and its opening weekend was $1,010,299. It was released to 352 theaters, which gives it a solid $2,870 per-theater-average.
Critical reviews for the film has been mixed. Rotten Tomatoes currently gives the film a 35% approval rating, based on 26 reviews. Critics listed on Metacritic have given The Grace Card a 43 out of 100 score, an average of 14 reviews currently available. Critics from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and The New York Times gave the film a positive review, while critics for the New York Post, Orlando Sentinel and New York Daily News were not as receptive
Steve Persall of the St. Petersburg Times said in a positive review, "This is a solid, sincere affirmation of faith and forgiveness. Praise the Lord, and pass the popcorn." Mike Hale of The New York Times said "Responses to religious films are bound to be personal, so at the risk of sounding patronizing, I'll say that my main reaction to The Grace Card was one of pleasant surprise at its competence." Orlando Sentinel's Roger Moore said, "The eggshells the screenwriter and director walk on distance the story from the reality it aims to imitate. And that robs this tale of loss, grief and redemption of its punch."
The critics, however, where much more positive in critiquing lead actor Michael Joiner, with The Hollywood Reporter and Variety giving Joiner rave reviews for his performance, as well as The Times of Northwest Indiana and The Kansas City Star.