Beyond the Mask
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There’s a lot Christian families will love about Beyond the Mask, a Christian-produced action/adventure that gives classics like Zorro and the Lone Ranger a colonial twist.
It features strong lead performances, packs in plenty of youngster-pleasing swashbuckling and parent-pleasing history, and, most impressive of all—excepting an outlandish wig here or there—it looks really cool. Really, really cool. So cool I’m dying to find out what kind of budget brothers Chad and Aaron Burns were working with and how they managed to wring so many sweeping harbor scenes and fog-draped 18th-century villages from it.
As Will Reynolds, a British mercenary who finds himself at odds with the East India Company, Andrew Cheney brings to mind Dirk Benedict in his A-Team heyday. He’s as dashing as Antonio Banderas and a good deal more so than Orlando Bloom. John Rhys-Davies delivers his usual excellent work as the villain and uncle of Will’s love, Charlotte (a lovely, spirited performance from Kara Killmer.)
The performances and visuals are so good, it’s a bit disappointing the over-stuffed plot doesn’t equal them. Initial setups, such as Will and Charlotte’s romance in England, drag down the pace and take up valuable time that would have been better employed fleshing out the fun in America. Likewise, an early plot turn where Will assumes the identity of a vicar has little point beyond padding out a redemptive arc.
While I appreciate the Burnses’ motives, there were subtler ways to convey Will’s change of heart and avoid an overly dramatic note in an otherwise campy romp. By all means, let’s have rollicking, romantic escapades crafted by redeemed imaginations. Let’s have taut, sci-fi thrillers. Let’s have sweeping, period dramas and contemplative, contemporary slices of life. And let’s not feel that we must have the same serious conversion speeches in all of them.
Could a renegade adventurer like Will Reynolds surrender his life to Christ? Of course. But I’m not sure he’d stop sword-fighting to talk about it so much.
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