The Abbate family seems to have an idyllic life. They live in a beautiful home in Atlanta, Georgia. Their oldest son, Jon, is a star defensive football player at Wake Forest University. Their other children are doing well in school, and their 15-year-old son, Luke is a promising young football player.
One day, after practice, Luke catches a ride home with one of his friends. After some reckless antics, the teenagers get into a major car accident. The other boys suffer minor wounds, but Luke is left in a coma, fighting for his life. As the family gathers at the hospital, they receive horrific news. Luke has been brain-dead for nearly 24 hours, and the family must make the decision to take him off life support.
Over the next several months, the family deals with the grief of Luke’s death in their own ways. His father buries himself in his work, his mother buries herself in a bottle, and his brother Jon struggles to return to the football field. Soon, Jon is inspired to return to the football field, even taking Luke’s old Football number, the number 5, for his football jersey. Not long after, the entire Wake Forest football team as well as the university rallies behind Luke’s memory, holding up #5s at every game. That year, Wake Forest has their best season in school history. As the team’s success grows, Luke’s parents find emotional healing in the inspiration of Luke’s story. Also, the entire family finds comfort when they get a chance to meet the recipient of Luke’s heart donation.
THE 5TH QUARTER is a touching true story. The tale illicits plenty of tears as viewers empathize with the Abbate family and their emotional journey. The movie is not the best-directed movie, and the storytelling is disjointed with multiple plotlines and no central focus.
Also, the movie uses actual game footage from Wake Forest’s historic 2006 football season, including crowd shots where all the university students hold up their hands, signaling the #5. This adds some exciting sports action to the movie as well as reminds viewers what an effect Luke’s young life had on so many other people. There are some choppy scenes, static dialogue and some misplaced plot points, but the movie still effectively conveys the heart of the Abbate family’s journey.
The movie has a strong, moral worldview with emphasis on forgiveness, redemption and recovery from grief. It also contains some explicitly Christian content such as prayer is depicted several times throughout the movie, Scripture is read in several scenes and a Christian funeral is depicted.
However, the movie does have some cautionary content that should be noted. There is some foul language, strong alcohol use including drunkenness, and an implication that Jon and his girlfriend are living together outside of wedlock. There are also some thematic elements of dealing with a teenage boy dying from a reckless car driving accident that parents may want to consider when viewing with their children.