Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.


Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

You're never going to be fed very well in a prison camp. And when you've been captured by an army that can't even feed its own men … well, you can be pretty sure they're not going to save the prime rib for you.

New Yorker Joseph Hoover and his Unionist pal, Robert, were captured by the Confederates during the Battle of the Wilderness—one of the bloodiest confrontations in the Civil War. They survived four months in the Andersonville prison camp, where 13,000 men eventually died. Finally transferred to the Florence Stockade in South Carolina, they quickly realize it's not much better. And even though the Confederacy seems to be wheezing its last by the fall of 1864, Joseph and Robert know the war could go on for months, maybe years yet. There's no guarantee they'll survive to the end.

But a new pal, Tom Ryan, has an idea. See, the Florence Stockade isn't much of a stockade yet. In fact, it looks more like a really crowded campsite—albeit one where you'll be shot if you're seen trying to leave. Still, the lack of walls gives Tom a bit of hope. What if the three of them faked dysentery to gain access to the makeshift hospital—positioned tantalizingly close to the woods? Maybe they could make a dash for it.

And so they do. It works out well … for two of them. Robert's shot in the back. But Tom and Joseph escape into the woods and they're free. Free!

Or, at least as free as a couple of Yanks can be in South Carolina, surrounded by trigger-happy Confederate soldiers, embittered plantation owners and completely unfamiliar woodlands and waterways. "We are out of the camp," Joseph tells Tom, "but we are far from free."

They're not the only folks who long to escape Southern captivity, of course. Indeed, it seems these Northern white soldiers may yet find help below the Mason-Dixon Line—not in the camps of the Confederacy or the sprawling antebellum mansions built by King Cotton, but in the modest shacks and hovels of African slaves.

Positive Elements

Moviegoers are constantly reminded of the evils of slavery and what was, in the end, at stake during the Civil War. Joseph feels that he and his comrades are fighting for a righteous cause, and he insists to Tom that if they ever get back to the North, both should return to the army and continue campaigning for that cause. "The Union cannot stand until all men are free," he says. "And it cannot hold together unless each one of us does our part."

He and Tom end up receiving plenty of help as they make their escape—from a slave family willing to shelter them for a couple of days (at great risk to their own well-being), and from a man who points them toward safe(er) transit along the Underground Railroad. A woman risks everything (even her life) to feed the two men.

Perhaps the most heroic of the pair's helpers is a man named Jim. Still a slave, he warns Joseph and Tom of an impending betrayal and, when things get dicey, he winds up running away with them. He proves to be a brave and thoughtful companion. Tom, who despite fighting for the Union still harbors racist sentiments [as did many Northerners], is wholly won over by Jim's dedication and sacrifices, coming to the realization that he's a better man than many of the white men Tom has had occasion to know.

[Spoiler Warning] Indeed, Jim makes an inspiring sacrifice before the three of them find the Union lines again: He decides to stay behind and become a worker on the Underground Railroad himself. "I ain't terrible religious," he admits, "but it seems God has chosen this new path for me."

Two on-their-face negatives are turned into learning opportunities here. The first is that while black slaves are sometimes disparaged by Tom and are, obviously, horribly mistreated by their owners, the film's larger context strains to reveal how very wrong such domination and racism is. The second relates to Tom being an avid gambler: He says he made some enemies gambling while in Andersonville, and he brags about his talent. But Joseph cautions, "There are no good gamblers." And in a postscript, we learn that Tom may have died out West while gambling.

Spiritual Content

During their stay in the Florence Stockade hospital, a nurse comes to comfort a dying man. With Joseph lying nearby, she tells the delirious solder that she's a "woman of faith," and walks him through the Sinner's Prayer so that he might go to heaven should he die that evening. And as the two pray, Joseph silently mouths the words along with them—becoming, it's suggested, a Christian himself.

God's influence, love and sovereignty are also acknowledged throughout the rest of the film. When a family takes Tom and Joseph in, Joseph says, "Thanks be to God, and to you"—even though one of the slaves, speaking in an accent reminiscent of the stereotypical slaves from Gone With the Wind, calls them "Yankee demons." When Tom lies about who he is and where he came from, he's reprimanded with, "It's a terrible sin to tell such a lie."

When a calamity befalls the trio, Joseph suggests that "the Lord works in His own ways." "How is this the Lord's way?" Jim asks aloud in his own moment of personal agony. And yet God does seem to use the tragedy as a catalyst to send Jim on his sacrificial path. "We all got a purpose," Jim says.

Sexual Content

Joseph and Tom are invited into the home of a wealthy widow, Mrs. Macintosh, and it would seem that she hopes to interest them in her two daughters (one of whom has a child). Tom suggests that female company is a rare treat, and the women wear gowns that bare their shoulders.

Violent Content

Union Bound takes place, obviously, during the Civil War—the bloodiest conflict the United States has ever known. Scenes from the Battle of the Wilderness include combatants getting shot and falling to the ground. Elsewhere, as noted, Robert is shot in the back, and Jim suffers a bullet wound to the arm. Someone's thwacked on the back of the head with an ax. Both Tom and Joseph get conked, the blow knocking Joseph out. A man is tied to a tree.

We see a female slave get punched in the face (on camera) and smashed in the head with a gun butt (off camera), a blow that kills her. There are fistfights and someone gets whipped. At the Florence Stockade, we see (among others who are horribly injured) a man whose eyes are covered with a bloody bandage. A patient is delirious after having his leg amputated. A slide at the end of the movie shows us a photo taken during the Civil War; it's of a trench filled with corpses. We're told that 800,000 people died during the war, 56,000 of them in prison camps.

Crude or Profane Language

One use each of "b--tard," "bloody" and "d--n." The n-word is spit out once.

Drug and Alcohol Content

At Mrs. Macintosh's house, wine and brandy is served. Tom smokes Joseph's corncob pipe (mentioning that he lost his own in a card game).

Other Negative Elements


When Joseph asks Jim why he'd bother to help them escape, Jim at first says that it just seemed like the "Christian thing to do." But then he goes deeper with his explanation. "Y'all been captives," he tells Joseph. "I've been in chains before. I know what that is. It ain't nothing that no man should endure."

Union Bound is based on the real-life diaries of Joseph Hoover, and it is determined to remind viewers that slavery is indeed a terrible evil. "Those who deny freedom to others," Abraham Lincoln wrote, "deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long retain it." Subtly, the film suggests that a just God is indeed at work, even in the midst of horror and hardship. It tells us that the better angels of our natures (another phrase from Lincoln) stem from a deep, abiding faith: As Jim said, the "Christian thing to do."

Of course, we all know that it's not so simple as that—not now and not then. While Christianity was the cornerstone of the abolitionist movement, a great many people also used the Bible to justify slavery.

But that is the beauty of story, isn't it? We can tell the stories that should be told, to remind us how we—as Christians, as people—should act and treat others. And Union Bound, in spite of some cinematic missteps, tells us that even in our own imperfections we still have the ability to tell a story—a truth—worth telling.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Sean Stone as Joseph Hoover; Randy Wayne as Tom Ryan; Larry 'Tank' Jones as Jim Young; Trish Cook as Mrs. Macintosh; Christian Fortune as Robert Spencer


Harvey Lowry ( )


Hannover House



Record Label



In Theaters

April 22, 2016

On Video

August 2, 2016

Year Published



Paul Asay

Content Caution

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!