Two years after the Rapture, the enigmatic Josh McManus has a mission to do good and to right wrongs, even when it seems like evil is winning. His latest mission takes him to a strict and legalistic settlement that tolerates no crime in order to gain medical attention for an injured girl. In exchange for both of their lives, Josh must carry out a dangerous mission: search for a mysterious and troublemaking vagrant known as the Shepherd and bring him back so the settlement leader, Drake, can exchange him to his superiors for more life saving supplies. In route to searching for the Shepherd, Josh and his unwanted tagalong, Sofia, must battle multiple villains and come to grips with what they truly believe about Jesus and His plan for the world.
Production Quality (2 points)
Underrated Christian producer Bradley Dorsey has singlehandedly taken an awkward action franchise on his shoulders and has made it a genre-busting force to be reckoned with. Dorsey brings an abstract quality to Christian film that cannot be replicated. The camera work improves dramatically in The Black Rider, as does the sound quality. The surroundings and sets are innovative and creative. Gone are ridiculous special effects, including that weird lightning! This would have been a stellar production were in not for a collection of small issues—no doubt White influences. For example, the CGI that is used is very amateurish. Action scenes are overall not produced well, and there are too many of them, which is an editing problem. The scope of the plot is so vast that precious time does not need to be wasted on silly fight scenes. Yet these such portions squeezed out the deepening of plot creativity. Nonetheless, this is the type of production that Pureflix has been trying to stab in the dark for years. Despite its flaws, it is a formidable creation; Bradley Dorsey needs to be retained as a permanent for this franchise and beyond.
Plot and Storyline Quality (2 points)
The abysmal non-plot of The Beginning of the End seems like a distant memory after viewing The Black Rider. Once again, Dorsey has made this franchise something that it never was before. He brings his famous psychological edge to the plot and inserts creative concepts that give the film deeper meaning beyond car chases and gunfights. An entire new cast of characters is introduced, and it actually works. A new world is introduced two years after The Sea of Glass and Fire, and it’s better than before. But this new world is a double-edged sword—it’s too big for the scope of this film. If more of this world had been explained in The Sea of Glass and Fire, we would have a framework to understand, but this did not happen. Foreign plot devices such as the ominous ULC are forced upon viewers without explanation. However, the city-state government system works well in this apocalyptic setting and gives the movie that epic backdrop David A. R. White has been searching for. Moreover, there are other speculative concepts that are introduced and not fully explained. Yet the gospel message is philosophically communicated far better than ever before in a Pureflix movie, and all without forcing the message down the audience’s throats. There is unfortunately still wasted time on childish fighting scenes. The escapades of Josh McManus, a surprisingly good character, border on unrealistic and sometimes coincidental. Some of the many villains in this movie are laughable, while others are believable. Each character is crafted through mostly effective dialogue. The ending of this plot is also a double-edged sword: it both introduces a key Dorsey psychological element and confuses the audience. It both isolates the viewer and makes them want more. Any further discussion is beyond the scope of this review, but the bottom line is Dorsey and company really have something going here, something that needs to be continued.
Acting Quality (2 points)
Hands down, The Black Rider is David A. R. White’s best acting work to date. Bradley Dorsey also contributes an excellent role to the film, perhaps his best. Unfortunately, there is still some cheesy acting from certain cast members. Kevin Sorbo in a thrift store disaster getup and sporting a fake insert-ethnicity-here accent is just too much to bear. Action acting is still B-grade. Other small issues plague an otherwise great casting job, such as that dumb sheet the Shepherd wears. Otherwise, costuming is fairly responsible. Line delivery is sometimes effective and sometimes forced. Emotions are mostly believable. In short, everything about this film is give and take: for every cheesy element, there is an excellent element, and vice versa.
The Revelation Road saga is a cinematic freak of nature—a film franchise with a redemption arc of its own that closely mirrors the rise of Josh McManus, the surprising crowning achievement of David A. R. White’s acting career. Bradley Dorsey is a maddeningly frustrating and creatively wonderful genius. He comes so close to making the epic movie time and again yet falls short every time due to small errors. The Black Rider is a constant tug of war between the C-grade action of The Beginning of the End and the psychological creativity of The Sea of Glass and Fire. The third installment suffers from the wasted time of the first two installments, where this time could have been used to build a better backstory instead of shoving in all into one movie, intending to fix a broken series in one stroke. But The Black Rider is proof of two things: broken sagas can be fixed and Bradley Dorsey deserves more attention and authority in the Christian movie scene. Under his guidance, new movie frontiers can be blazed. We are surprisingly anticipating the release of Revelation Road 4.
Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points