William Reynolds is not a good man. As an unofficial contracted ‘enforcer’ for the East India Company, he has committed many undocumented international crimes. That’s why his boss, Charles Kemp, enlists him and his partner to steal and replace an incriminating Parliamentary report that could shut down the entire company for unethical business practices. However, after this mission is complete, William intends to put his criminal life behind him. Little does he know that Kemp has other plans for him. After secretly surviving a failed attempt on his life, Reynolds is forced to take on the identity of the man who foiled the murder—a young vicar headed to a local parish. It seems easy until Reynolds must fabricate a knowledge of the Scriptures and come to grips with his newfound love for a local girl who has no idea who he really is. What Reynolds learns is that life in hiding is anything but straightforward, especially during the tumultuous political times of pre-Revolutionary War England and America.
Production Quality (3 points)
Burns Family Studios did an excellent job on the production of this adventure epic movie, including camera work, special effects, and historical costuming. It would have been very easy for this type of large scope movie to be cheaply produced, but this was not the case. The editing must have been very tricky, given the time that the movie covers, but it is done fairly well. There are virtually no errors here.
Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)
However, the same cannot be said about the plot. Box Office Revolution believes talented writer Paul McCusker bit off more than he could chew with this historical epic. The movie covers at least two years of highly important content, and it walks the line of being too fast paced and being just good enough. In some respects, the plot moves too fast to develop the characters, but in other respects, it is a very exciting movie full of intriguing plot twists. It is creatively woven around historical events, yet BOR wonders if Mask should have been two movies or even a miniseries. At the same time, BOR realizes that money is always an issue with independent Christian films, so it is likely that McCusker and Burns Family Studios did the best they could with what they had. In short, the only real errors in this aspect of the movie are the fast paced plot and some small yet unrealistic action scenes.
Acting Quality (2.5 points)
Andrew Cheney and Jon Ryhs-Davies are obviously well-seasoned actors, and they are coached well. However, the ‘amateur’ actors are also coached very well. BOR noted that staff positions on the production of this movie were devoted to acting coaching, something that other Christian productions need to take note of. There are virtually no acting errors in Beyond the Mask.
In short, there are two ways of looking at Beyond the Mask, much like the masks of William Reynolds. Either McCusker and Burns Family Studios did the best with what they had or they did not do enough. BOR chooses to adopt a position in between these two options. Beyond the Mask is clearly above average and Paul McCusker has always been known as an excellent story writer. The movie is a breath of fresh air in the Christian movie industry and has made BOR very excited to see the future movies of Paul McCusker and Burns Family Studios.
Final Rating: 7.5 out of 10 points