“90 Minutes in Heaven” (Samuel Goldwyn) is based on the true story of a Baptist minister and his near-death experience.
As portrayed by Hayden Christensen, Don is an earnest and sincere pastor. He’s also a loving husband to spouse Eva (Kate Bosworth) and an attentive father to his three children.
Don has his date with destiny while returning from a prayer meeting. On a rain-swept bridge, an 18-wheeler plows into his car, crushing the vehicle. Don is pronounced dead, and his car — with Don still trapped inside — is covered with a tarp, awaiting removal.
As the eponymous time period passes, Dick Onarecker (Michael Harding), a fellow minister, approaches and asks permission from law enforcement to pray over the body. He sings a song of praise over the supposed corpse — and then, inexplicably, Don stirs to life.
Don himself is bewildered, for he has spent the past hour-and-a-half in a place bathed in golden light, where loved ones approach to greet the new arrival. However, just as he is about to pass through the portals of paradise, Don is returned to earth.
Over four months in the hospital and 34 surgeries, Don is wracked by his supernatural experience, telling no one of his vision. “Survival was going to be difficult, because heaven was so glorious,” he admits. He longs to return to the afterlife, rather than stick around on Earth.
Eventually Don decides to share his “sacred secret.” However, we learn precious little of Don’s observations. The glimpse of “heaven” given us in this movie is ultimately unsatisfying.
Nonetheless, “90 Minutes” does offer an inspiring lesson for adults and older teens about faith, hope and persistence. Despite some hints at underlying theological differences, as a whole, the film’s evangelical viewpoint on prayer and the promise of eternal life is mostly consonant with Catholic doctrine.
The film contains disturbing images and some mature themes. (A-II, PG-13).