It’s the End of the World as We Know It, by Tim Acheson

19 May

Have you ever wanted to watch Mad Max  without the madness? Then Revelation Road: The Beginning of the End is for you.

When it comes to Christians movies, I know the hearts of the filmmakers are in the right place. And, perhaps this is envy speaking, but I wish I could do what they do: Have the talent and equipment to put their story on the big screen. My point is, Christian filmmakers, keep doing what you love.

Unfortunately, good intentions can only carry one so far. And as is the case with many movies made by Christians, Revelation Road is another example of this truth.

Dialogue like the following is an indicator of the quality that one can expect:

“Look, I know it’s not your thing, but will you pray with me?”

“Nah, babe, it’s just not my thing.”

Going back to my Mad Max comparison, Revelation Road is about a former soldier suffering from PTSD who finds himself in defense of a family who are being harassed by a biker gang, all while strange weather and breaking news hint that something is on the way. That “something” would be the Rapture. An event expanded on in, as the credits tell us, “Revelation Road: Sea of Glass and Fire, coming soon.”

It’s not just the premise that makes me think of Mad Max.

The directing I would describe as a combination of Mad Max and 300. From “ramping” — speeding up and slowing down the camera — to the hallucinations Josh, the protagonist, suffers from, watching Revelation Road I got the impression that Pure Flix’s mindset was, “If we’re going to take from Mad Max, we might as well go all the way.”

Well, not all the way. After all, Revelation Road is a Christian movie. And if there’s one thing that Christians don’t want to see in a movie where a mentally unstable biker holds a gun to a teenage girl’s head, makes it clear he wants to rape her, and threatens to kill her grandfather, it’s the f-word.

“You are so… completely dead!”

Pure Flix’s co-founder, David A.R. White, stars as a soldier named Josh. A man described accurately by Hawg (Brian Bosworth) as follows:

“You don’t look like much.”

I say this is accurate because, with his physicality and personality, David A.R. White just doesn’t seem the soldier type. And the above line comes across as Pure Flix acknowledging this. Ray Wise, who played attorney Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks, stars as Frank, a drugstore owner whose daughter is threatened with rape before Josh, putting his experience as a soldier to use, subdues the bikers looking to rob the establishment (on a personal note, I’ll always see Ray Wise as the US President from Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2). Andrea Logan White, David A.R. White’s wife, plays Cat, a biker who undergoes a change of heart and spares Frank’s life just before the Rapture occurs, allowing him to be taken, body and soul, to Heaven.

Rounding out the recognizable faces and names in the cast is Bruce Marchiano, who plays the same character in Revelation Road that he plays in the Pure Flix series The Encounter. He plays God. Which makes me wonder if Pure Flix is taking a page from Marvel’s playbook and making its own cinematic universe.

It’s hard for me to see what kind of audience Revelation Road is for.

On the one hand, the movie’s worldview is explicitly Christian. For example, an Indian man, shown to be a follower of Hinduism, is not taken up to Heaven when the Rapture happens. And, when people try to leave his motel in a panic because their Christian loved ones have just vanished and they want to try and find them, he pulls out a gun and refuses to let people who won’t pay leave.

On the other hand, not long after Frank’s daughter is almost kidnapped and raped and a man gets shot in the head right next to her, she’s running around his store like nothing happened. When it comes to the portrayal of issues such as the effect of violence on one’s psyche, Revelation Road: The Beginning of the End is laughable at best and offensive at worst.

But the movie does have its positives.

Before today, I couldn’t say that I’d ever seen one man kill another with a war hammer while riding a motorcycle.

But in film criticism, as in life, you’ve got to take the bad with the good. And in Revelation Road‘s case, the bad outweighs the good to such an extent that I cannot honestly say, “You should watch this movie.”

If you’re looking for a revelation on this road, it is that your time and money are finite, and they deserve to be well spent.

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