PG-13 | 111 min | Action, Biography, Crime
Review - Matt Mungle
**In theaters January 8th 2016**
Synopsis: "The Masked Saint" is based on a true story about one pastor's mission to help his community by risking his identity and returns to his former life as a wrestler.
Review: Everyone has a story to tell and this one is quite interesting and entertaining; regardless of how loosely based it may or may not be on actual events. And though it commits many of the same sins as most faith based films it has enough redemptive elements to warrant a smidgen of grace.
Chris Samuels (Brett Granstaff) is a former wrestling champion who leaves that world behind to pastor a faltering Baptist church. His foes in the ring were nothing compared to the struggles he now faces. A dwindling congregation, stacks of over due bills, a community wrapped in crime, judgmental parishioners; all things Chris and his wife Michelle (Lara Jean Chorostecki) battle with a strong faith and a trust that God is in the middle of it all. When he decides to put his mask back on in order to help the church an inner battle ensues. One that may save the day or leave it all in ruins.
Wrestling is what sets this story apart from other church geared films. There is something about that sport that, love it or hate it, you can't help but get sucked in to. The over the top characters. Cheering the good guy while despising the bad guy. As fake and staged as most of it is there is no more exciting pageantry than professional wrestling. The scenes set in the ring are the stand out moments of the film.
Granstaff is a believable and endearing Chris Samuels. With the mask or without you rally behind him and become an advocate for his mission. His acting is solid. He looks comfortable in the ring and that is important to his character. Also, you feel his passion and tenacity outside the ring as he faces injustice in his community. At times the script does feel like a super hero wanna be tale but those times are fleeting and not a destructive intrusion. Granstaff is able to save face even during the most poorly written moments.
The films three count comes though in the over acting performances of the secondary characters and their stereotypical mannerisms. It is the cardinal sin of faith based movies. Is it so hard to write and direct a movie about faith? Their are so many eye rolling moments. It is sad when professional wrestlers act more convincingly than anyone else. How often do we see the same hardened individuals spitting in the face of religion only to be miraculously turned around in 90 minutes? Yes it happens in real life but never in the way that these films portray it. The church ends up looking comical and unrealistic. But the message is strong and there are enough stand up and cheer moments to out weigh the cringe worthy ones; if just barely.
This is one of the last films that the well known wrestler Roddy Piper starred in. He plays a wrestling promotor with that same rough and rowdy persona that made him loved by many in the sport. If anything this film allows us to see him one more time in his element.
THE MASKED SAINT is rated PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements. As mentioned, professional wrestling is a large part of the film and it does not tone down the action in the ring. Thankfully so because those truly are the highlight moments. It is a safe film for anyone over the age of 10. The message of redemption, recognizing your God given gifts, and working together to salvage a community will sit well with the faith based audiences. I give it 2.75 out of 5 arm bars. As a fan of the sport it took me back to my childhood and even though it stumbles in many aspects it was entertaining and encouraging where it mattered.