Leans strongly toward a biblical worldview
|Overall Faith and/or Biblical Relevance|
|Faith-compatible Depiction of Characters and Character Relationships|
|Faith-compatible Depiction of Situations|
|Family Viewing Suitability|
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As faith-driven films increasingly come into their own, BEYOND THE MASK ups the ante and delivers a fun and rollicking historical adventure that is sure to satisfy with decent production values and an imaginative story grounded in a biblical worldview. Produced by Aaron Burns and directed by his brother Chad Burns, BEYOND THE MASK is in theaters April 6th and boasts an excellent screenplay written by Paul McCusker of Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey series. It features John Rhys-Davies (KILLING JESUS, THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK), Andrew Cheney (SEASONS OF GRAY) and Kara Killmer (Chicago Fire) in lead roles.
Overall Faith and/or Biblical Relevance
Although set in the context of an 18th century historical action drama during the American Revolutionary period—yet packed with 21st century computer generated imagery, chase scenes and action figures—BEYOND THE MASK offers a clear presentation of the Gospel and raises important questions of identity, justification and redemption that all humans must wrestle with.
Central to the story is the lead character’s fleshly striving to save himself and redeem his own good name as he flees his past. Along the way, themes of revenge, self-sacrifice, forgiveness, prayer and grace are effectively woven in to the storyline in ways that will resonate with most viewers.
Faith-compatible Depiction of Characters and Character Relationships
BEYOND THE MASK features a wide variety of characters that represent the full range of good and evil found in the human condition. On the one hand, there’s the plotting, greedy, corrupt and murderous Charles Kemp (Rhys-Davies) who has come to terms with the contradictions in his life and embraced the ways of a plundering colonial oppressor and slave trader working for the British East India Company.
On the other hand, there’s Kemp’s niece, Charlotte, a beautiful, smart, courageous and virtuous woman of faith and prayer (Killmer). And in between there’s former mercenary William Reynolds (Cheney) who seeks freedom from his past in the New World—longing for redemption and a new name. His innate gifts of strength and fearlessness are ultimately transformed into godly boldness—thanks in large part to Charlotte’s increasing love for him and intercession on his behalf.
There’s great chemistry between Cheney and Killmer as actors and one of the best scenes in the movie takes place when William says that Charlotte embodies God’s mercy to him—a mercy that he doesn’t deserve.
Beyond these three main characters, BEYOND THE MASK offers and godly relationship between Charlotte and her mother, and some characters willingly give up their lives for others in ways that point to Jesus.
Faith-compatible Depiction of Situations
A strong and commendable theme in BEYOND THE MASK centers on prayer. Charlotte prays about William’s marriage proposal and asks God to show her the way—noting that she doesn’t fully trust herself to make a decision of that magnitude alone. She also expresses concern about William’s state of spiritual immaturity and discerns that he “speaks of God as a distant acquaintance, not as a dear friend.”
Ultimately, she prays to be an instrument of God’s mercy in William’s life and shares the Gospel with him as he awaits his fate on death row. Eventually, William confesses his sins to a pastor who tells him that somebody else already got what he deserves—hinting at Jesus.
Throughout BEYOND THE MASK, situations of heroic self-sacrifice are depicted and Charlotte has a moment of Esther-like clarity where she realizes that she’s in a unique position to save many people. The important question, “Who can know the ways of God?” is asked and moviegoers see that neither love and redemption can be earned but are, rather, gifts granted freely from the heart of God.
In a touch that many will appreciate, the first kiss between William and Charlotte doesn’t occur until they are engaged, and there is a symbolic baptism by fire for them as a couple in one of the final action-packed scenes.
Family Viewing Suitability
At 103 minutes in length, BEYOND THE MASK is rated PG and is suitable for all but very young children. The story is fast-paced and captivating—weaving the likes of General George Washington and Ben Franklin with the Continental Congress, the Declaration of Independence and the power of electricity into a tale of colonists taking sides as the seeds of revolution from England come to fruition. Along the way, twists involving intrigue, deception, murder, brawls, bomb plots and dramatic chase scenes unfold—with good triumphing over evil.
If you’re looking for a fun and uplifting movie that upholds biblical values and is suitable for both kids and adults, BEYOND THE MASK is for you. Boys will love its masked-man hero and action-packed storyline, and girls will admire Charlotte’s beauty, intelligence, grace and adventurous spirit.
Although the musical score is a bit odd at times and a few scenes fall flat (William’s capture at the New York Mayoral Ball) or are somewhat unbelievable (the plausibility of a huge electric generator in Philadelphia in 1776), BEYOND THE MASK offers a creative and engaging script, impressive special effects, solid production values and a somewhat uneven cast with a stand-out performance by Cheney.
Ultimately, the story of William Reynolds—a man seeking freedom and redemption from a past that continues to haunt him—is every person’s story. With BEYOND THE MASK, the Burns brothers and Paul McCusker have successfully created a fictional 18th century historical story and brought it forward into the 21st century in a way that both faith-driven and secular moviegoers will enjoy.