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Movie Review

Beyond the Mask

MPAA Rating: PG for action, violence and some thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Raphael Vera

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Primary Audience:
Teens Adults Family
Action Family Christian Drama
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
April 6, 2015
June 5, 2015 (wide—111+ theaters)
DVD: September 8, 2015
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Relevant Issues
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Can a bad man ever truly be good?

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What is goodness and righteousness?

importance of closeness to God—“Sometimes he speaks of God as a distant acquaintance, not a close friend.”

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” —John 8:32.

true freedom that can only be found in Christ

importance of spiritual redemption—“Only God can give us new lives” / “I have strived in vain to redeem my name. But God, in His mercy, He has done the work I could never do. He's redeemed my name and given me His.”

about grace and mercy

Is Jesus Christ the answer to your questions?
Discover the good news that Jesus Christ offers

about faith and truth

Copyright, Gathr Films

importance of human liberty

early history in the American Colonies

Paradise or Pain? Why is the world the way it is?
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer
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Featuring: Andrew Cheney … William Reynolds
John Rhys-DaviesCharles Kemp
Kara Killmer … Charlotte Holloway
Adetokumboh M'Cormack … Joshua Brand
Steve Blackwood … Richard Harrison
Thomas D. Mahard … Doctor Harrow
Marc Bowers … Fourth Soldier
Carl Harry Carlson … Delegate
Samrat Chakrabarti … Basil
Connie Craig … Mrs. Thompson
Jennifer Dixon … Mrs. Witherspoon
Dennis Doyle Jr. … King Henry VIII
Michael Ellison … Abraham Wick
more »
Director: Chad Burns—“Pendragon: Sword of His Father” (2009)
Producer: Burns Family Studios
Kiran Bhakta Joshi
Aaron Burns
Tracey Burns
Distributor: Gathr Films

The year is 1775, and the mercenary Will Reynolds (Andrew Cheney) has had enough of killing on the behalf of Charles Kemp (John Rhys-Davies) of the British East India Company to last a lifetime, and he tells Kemp as much after the completion of his latest deadly midnight mission. Unfortunately, Kemp is not willing to just let him retire and offers him instead a place in helping him build a power base in the American colonies. But William rejects his offer and earns Kemp’s wrath—immediately ordering his death.

Narrowly escaping Kemp’s trap, with no survivors to tell otherwise, Reynolds assumes the identity of a just appointed Vicar. Settling into his new role, he finds himself drawn to the simple life, as well as the charms of the kind-hearted and graceful Charlotte Holloway (Kara Killmer). The sins of the past have a way of catching up to him, and, though the two are soon separated, they both find themselves in the New World’s colony known as Philadelphia—Reynolds beside his new friend Ben Franklin, played with affable wisdom by Alan Madlane and Charlotte who is under the protection of her powerful uncle, the unscrupulous Charles Kemp.

As the eve of American independence draws nigh, Kemp does his best to foment havoc and ruin upon the American rebels, while Will seeks to earn himself a new name, one of honor as the masked “Highwayman,” righter of wrongs, protector of the innocent, but most of all—American patriot. “Beyond The Mask” captures well a sense of “Revolutionary era” America and the noble character of many of the players is both refreshing and inspiring. A Christian dramatization that is remarkably light on sermons, it still manages to convey some very positive messaging amidst an exciting and alternately romantic backdrop, with very few areas of concern.

Objectionable Content

Language: None. The Producers, Burns Family Studios, have made it a point to keep the language fit for all audiences and the name of the Lord, when used, is always done in honor and not in vain.

Violence: Moderate. While people are shot from a distance, as well as up close, and fighting is done with swords, knives and blunt objects, no gore is shown, and blood is barely present, and when it is, it’s never in the case of fatalities. People are crushed and killed by falls, but these incidents are offscreen, so impacts are only implied. Some men are knocked seemingly unconscious in the water, which could mean their death, though they are not seen again. The most jarring death involves a man being electrocuted, but this scene alone should be of concern to parents of small children. The violence is the only reason for the film’s PG rating.

Sex/Nudity: Minor. The kissing that occurs is romantic and is an end to itself. Genuine love appears behind this and not lust. The respect and cordiality between the genders reflect the mores of the times and are aptly portrayed here.


As in life itself, the more prominent messaging is derived from how we live our lives, and the film’s three main characters are defined by what they believe and how they live it out.

Greed/Avarice/Deceit—The central villain Charles Kemp, as played with relish by John Rhys-Davies, practically emanates malice when amongst his minions, yet shows righteous indignation in public, in other words he is the consummate politician. In addition to his own personal demons, he is not above encouraging others to lie and bear false testimony to further his own ends, which the Word of God specifically addresses numerous times, most notably in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:16) and in Proverbs:

“There are six things which Jehovah hateth; Yea, seven which are an abomination unto him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood; A heart that deviseth wicked purposes, Feet that are swift in running to mischief, A false witness that uttereth lies, And he that soweth discord among brethren.” Proverbs 6:16-19

Humility/Respect for elders—Will has never met anyone like Charlotte before, but no sooner than he finishes saying how kind and compassionate she is, she counters by stating she is not worthy of such praise, despite the fact that her demeanor shows the grace that her humility has blessed her with. When Charlotte begins to become enamored with Will, still under the guise of a vicar, though her heart is clearly drawn to him, she defers any major life decisions to her uncle, as our Father in heaven asks us to.

“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’” —1 Peter 5:5

Redemption—The major theme that permeates throughout the film is Will’s search for redemption which changes and assumes new dimensions as the film and his life progresses. Having lost Charlotte, he strikes a deal with God and swears, “God, if you help me redeem my name, I will lay aside revenge and show Charlotte I can change because of her.” Obviously this is only a first step, and though the focus is not toward God, his change of heart has now begun by doing a God-honoring action.

“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” —Romans 12:19

Will’s quest for redemption continues when he dons a mask and becomes the avenger known as “The Highwayman.” Yet, even his acts of heroism cannot erase the doubts that beleaguer him. Recognizing his terrible past he asks Charlotte if she believes in redemption to which she replies, “I believe in forgiveness.” The conscience of the film, Charlotte speaks truth as inspired by the Word of God.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” —Ephesians 1:7

Will feels the next day may be his last and admits, “I will get what I deserve tomorrow,” and, in response, he is told that, “Actually, someone else already got what you deserved,” alluding to the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ that, for those of us who acknowledge Him as Lord, has changed us forever.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” —John 3:16

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” —2 Corinthians 5:17

An enjoyable, humorous, and, at times, thrilling movie, “Beyond The Mask” does have a few shortcomings, among them the insanely quick transitions of Will’s character from dark mercenary, to gentleman vicar, to American patriot to finally masked avenger. Likewise, the romance of Will and Charlotte seems at times overly dramatic, if not a bit awkward, but, in retrospect, this might be attributed to the simpler times that were the 1700s. Only in a few scenes did budget limitations seem noticeable (i.e., camera work, blocking of actors), but they did not hamper the film’s pacing, and they were easily overshadowed by some of the more intense action scenes, the highlight of which featured a roof-top chase similar in style to “The Matrix” or “Assassins Creed,” as well as an ending as dramatic as it was explosive.

Fine acting performances all around, led by fan favorite John Rhys-Davies, and backed by a surprisingly good soundtrack, “Beyond The Mask” exceeded my expectations for a Christian adventure film and, frankly, made for a delightful movie that I highly recommend for most audiences.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor

For more information, see our Christian Film News article about this movie.

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See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I’m still in shock from how wonderful this movie was, and I don’t see myself getting over it anytime soon. Not only were the visuals superior to eye-candy films like “The Great Gatsby,” but the message of TRUE Biblical redemption was ever present. Plus, the love story was beautiful. I recommend it to anyone 10 and up. Everything about it, from moviemaking quality to moral quality, was as good as good can be. This is one of those movies that you buy as soon as it comes out on DVD.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Gabriel Mohler, age 25 (USA)
Positive—Loved this movie! This is one I want to own. I went to a viewing at a homeschool convention. It was fun to laugh with the whole audience at some of the same things. I went not expecting much, but left thinking, “This was great. I got lost in the story, just like any other movie.”

Great job! Completely family-friendly also. We took our 13, 12, and 9 year old boys. My twelve year old son says, “Out of a 1-10, I’d rate it an 8.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Michelle, age 40 (USA)
Positive—I hadn’t heard of this movie until about a week ago when I received an e-mail. I was immediately impressed with the theatrical trailer and made plans to take my family. Having viewed the previous Burns Family production, “Pendragon: Sword of His Father,” which was not exactly the highest quality production, I approached it with uncertainty and despite my excitement over the trailer braced myself with low expectations.

One of the things fueling my excitement was that the screen play was written by Paul McCusker (Focus on the Family Radio Theatre’s “Father Gilbert Mysteries”). I’m glad to see this movie finally get added to Christian Spotlight, I didn’t think anyone knew about it. IMBD only had one review at first, today I noticed seven more reviews, with one of them being terribly critical. Well, my verdict is in: A solid 4½ stars, and that’s without grading it with a Christian curve.

It is quite a visually spectacular historical action adventure romance with THE message of redemption. For an independent film, it was absolutely fantastic, right up there with “Amazing Grace.” Nothing else like it and well worth the time and money! I understand that a lot can be done with a little bit of money, however, I was struck by the fact that the budget for this was at 2½ million dollars and “Left Behind” (2014), starring Nicholas Cage, was 15 million. I think I remember giving it 3 stars for some very serious unbelievable moments. This movie is not preachy, and yet it definitely incorporates the Gospel message.

One of the key factors that I always look for in Christian based films is the artistic value. It is not enough to frequently mention God for it to be a Christian film, and at the same time, shoehorning several Gospel sermons is not exactly artistic, not that it can’t be used like that in certain contexts, such as was done in “Fury to Freedom,” “Luther” and “Billy: The Early Years.” The Burns brothers did an outstanding job on this part. I’m looking forward to see what is coming next from the Burns Family Studio. For theater info:
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—J. Paul, age 45 (USA)
Positive—I recall many years ago when “Christian films” first started appearing in theaters. They were all well intentioned, but sadly lacking in production value. With “Beyond The Mask” the quality of filmmaking is definitely improved (i.e compared to earlier Christian films). It is a very good effort! That said, it still is a flawed production with too quick scene changes, a weak script, and crude gaps in the filming. Why can’t—or why don’t we Christians do better? Surely, with prayer, Our Lord’s blessings, hard work, good scripts, and a decent budget—we surely are capable of making films of equal quality to Tinseltown’s top productions. It'd be a great day when that happens.

P.S.—Even though it wasn’t a “Christian Film” one must hold up the classic film “Chariots of Fire” as the quality we should strive for.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Leonardo, age 74 (USA)
Positive—This was a fantastic family movie, a real wake up call for Hollywood that great movies can be clean and have a redemptive message. This movie has action, adventure, a message and state of the art effects that make it a winner for every member of the family. Get your family together and go today.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Steve, age 53 (USA)
Positive—Loved it and would see it again at a more local theater. If Hollywood made more movies like this, I would go to the movies more. I can’t wait for the DVD.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Marycelis, age 37 (USA)
Positive—I just saw “Beyond the Mask” this evening, and undoubtedly, it is one of the best faith-based films I have ever seen. There was action, drama, romance, and redemption. And the music by Jurgen Beck was also exceptional. It’s encouraging that there are finally some good films like this to see, and I hope more film companies like Burns Family Studios continue to take the lead to produce good quality motion pictures.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—David, age 61 (USA)
Beyond the Mask (2015)
Positive—Nice to see a Christian-themed film without too much religious and moral emphasis, so that everyone may enjoy it! Also, nice to see no tobacco or alcohol drug use! BRAVO!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Chris [no religious belief or affiliation], age 32 (USA)
Positive—…I REALLY like this movie. I wasn’t able to get to a theater to see it, but I bought the DVD, and have watched it a few times already. I’m amazed and thrilled that a homeschooling family could make a movie of this quality; with historical adventure, as well as a romance that touched me, along with a godly message that was realistic and brought tears to my eyes. Way to Go! The acting was especially good I thought. I hope there is a sequel…… P. S. I asked my library to purchase a copy and they did. I love knowing it’s on the shelf there. God bless you Burns family.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Hope, age 00 (USA)
Comments from young people


Movie Critics

…BEYOND THE MASK has a very strong Christian worldview but it could be much better dramatically…
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide

rating 4 out of 5
—Adam R. Holz, Plugged In

…It’s a miss, anyway you look at it. The drama is overly familiar, the humor is clumsy, and its spiritual message is overshadowed by Syfy Channel-like effects and a wobbly handheld camera…
—Phil Boatwright, Preview Family Movie and TV Review

…“Beyond the Mask” will delight families, but not critics …The visual effects are impressive for a crowdfunded project. They aren’t Spielberg, but they look great, especially for a family-owned production company…
—Debbie Holloway, Crosswalk

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