I was extremely hyped for this film. A friend had shown me the trailer and I was immediately sold on the premise. What I saw was Assassins Creed 3, but actually good. Just watch the trailer above to see what I mean.
Thankfully, I was blessed with the opportunity to see Beyond The Mask prior to its official release and… wow. The bar I had set for this film was too low.
In England 1775, William Reynolds, starring Andrew Cheney, is a former assassin who seeks to leave his old life and pursue a new dream. Charlotte Holloway, starring Kara Killmer, meets William and throws a wrench into the life that William had sought. Along the way, William shows Charlotte that she can trust him all the while he befriends Benjamin Franklin. However, his old boss Charles Kemp, starring John Rhys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings trilogy), has even grander plans and none of them include William remaining alive.
Violence: Lots of hand to hand combat, firing of muskets, and explosions. You do see some dead bodies yet there is no blood.
Aside from the violence, there is nothing else to note. There is one short kiss scene. No language or nudity is to be found here.
Beyond The Mask hits home runs in a variety of aspects, but let’s tackle the most important of them all: the story. As laid out in the plot above, William Reynolds conducts one final mission as an assassin before retiring and pursuing a peaceful life. He works for the East India Trading Company ran by Charles Kemp. Charles tries to convince William to think again before retiring, but his mind has been made up. From here we have our hero and the leading lady, Charlotte, meet up and fall in love. We are taken along on a story that unfolds at a nice pace and actually has a few surprises along the way. By the end you will find yourself needing to take a deep breath at all that had just occurred.
There were a few scenes that stood out as something special. Those being the flashbacks to William’s past life as an assassin where you can tell he is struggling to let go and may he even have PTSD. Since the film starts with William’s final mission, it is good for us to see his past life and what he is coping with.
I must applaud John Rhys-Davies’ portrayal of Charles Kemp. He plays a grand villain who is not just a one dimensional evil doer who wants to take over the world or something silly like that. He has a real motivation for what he is doing. He just needed to go about it another way.
That is not to demean anyone else’s acting. Not by a long shot. Andrew Cheney and Kara Killmer do a fine job in their roles. However, I felt that George Washington was miscast as he does not look like the George Washington that we know.
Do you like action? Do you like when it isn’t meaningless? Then Beyond The Mask may be your cup of tea. In William’s quest for redemption and his pursuit of a new life, he has to defeat his old life and the baggage it comes with before moving on. Along the way he changes his identity a few times and despite his knack for escaping, he never seems to catch a break. There is much in the way of hand to hand combat, gun fire, acrobatics, well-used CGI, and explosions. These action scenes never feel out of place and happen quite often.
Despite how much this film does right and how much I enjoyed it, it is not without its flaws. While there are not many, I would be remiss to not address them. First thing is how William and Charlotte fall in love. You do not see any of the in between of him romancing her or why exactly she likes him. He meets her, she takes care of him, a quick montage of walking, and then bam love is in the air. To me it felt a bit shallow and almost like they had to fall in love for the plot to progress.
Also, the dialogue felt a bit weak in places. Well, actually it felt like there needed to be more of it especially in the beginning where William nary speaks a word after meeting Charlotte. It kind of goes hand in hand with the romance not making much sense. Lastly, there were a few scenes that were meant to inject some humor but they fell flat. There was only a couple and they were short.
Now to go over what some of you may be wondering about: the Christian content. William himself is not a Christian in the beginning but Charlotte is. God is mentioned many times and it never feels forced. William learns that he cannot get rid of his old past on his own and that to move on, he will need God’s grace. If you want in your face preaching in your Christian films then you may be disappointed. However, for those of us who like the story to take center stage, it all works perfectly.
So is Beyond The Mask a better version of Assassins Creed 3? Uh, yes. I know it is weird to compare the two, but I knew that some of you were curious. This movie is absolutely my favorite faith-based film to date. It took over three years for a film to top Courageous and I am glad that Beyond The Mask does just that. The mix of story, action, adventure, and God had left me with goosebumps upon the credits rolling. I highly recommend this film to everyone and anyone Christian or not. Would I be down for a sequel? Yes!
A screener link was provided for this review.
+ Action was superb and well done. + Flashback scenes added a layer of depth to William Reynolds. + John Rhys-Davies as Charles Kemp. + Story unraveled at a nice pace and had a few surprises. + God's grace is a major plot point, but doesn't feel forced.
- Why did William and Charlotte fall in love? Beats me. - George Washington was miscast. - Humor falls flat.
The Bottom Line
Not only is this a good action-adventure film, but Beyond The Mask sets the bar for all future faith-based films. Beyond The Mask is an absolute must see for all.