NBC’s “Moment of Truth” TV movie franchise, which has scored lofty numbers among women viewers, continues apace in its fourth installment since last year. “To Walk Again” is a serviceable yarn about a young man overcoming impossible medical odds after being shot in the head in a Marine training exercise.
The based-on-fact production toplines Blair Brown (who also co-produced) and Ken Howard as the loving, determined parents who beat down the military’s mazelike bureaucracy into providing their brain-damaged son proper medical treatment. As solid and likable as Brown and Howard are, the movie arguably makes its biggest impact with the performance of Cameron Bancroft as the Marine paraplegic who struggles to walk again.
Mercifully, writer George Eckstein carves a curve into the well-honed genre by establishing the young protagonist as a teenage hellion and reckless sorehead who, despite or perhaps because of his perfect home and family, is cruising to self-destruct.
This, too, is derivative but steers the pic away from a strictly hospital milieu. Our rebel without a cause smashes up friends’ cars and then an outdoor bank window. This incident lands him in jail.
At their wit’s end, Brown’s despairing mom and Howard’s irascible dad lay down an ultimatium to the wastrel: Join the armed services and get your life in order or get out of the house — one of the undying ultimatums in American domestic drama but sufficiently well-staged under Brown’s obvious pain to work here.
Bancroft’s sharply felt performance transcends the formula-driven plot. Heretofore limited on this side of the border to small parts in “General Hospital,” the Canadian Bancroft is not only a Rob Lowe look-alike but he invests his physically groping, vocally impaired character with a genuine affliction that never goes over the top.
In a variation on a role that’s been seen a zillion times on network movies, that’s no mean feat. Kudos also go to director Randall Zisk, whose rehab scenes ring with an unstressed authenticity.