The Masked Saint
By Renee Longstreet,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Trite faith-based tale has mature themes, lots of violence.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Finding and using God-given gifts, along with working with others unselfishly, can work miracles. Multiple explicit faith-based messages: "The Lord never gives us more than we can handle." "The world can be changed by our actions." "God doesn't always respond the way we think He should, but He always responds."
Positive Role Models
Main characters are earnest believers in religion, loving parents, and resourceful, and they continually do good works. Husband finds that he, too, can take a wrong path and is able to right himself quickly. Many characters find courage to search for and find redemption in the church. Ethnic diversity.
Violence & Scariness
Numerous hard-hitting wrestling bouts, throws, kicks, punches, pounding into the matt, choking. In one incident, an overpowering participant purposely breaks his opponent's legs. Some brutal street-fighting: In separate sequences, both a pimp with a steel pipe and thieves with guns on the attack are taken down forcefully by a masked vigilante. Evidence of assault is observed on wife as husband threatens her.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A prostitute is threatened by her pimp; returns to church seeking a new start and is, at first, the object of congregants' contempt. A married couple kisses warmly.
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"Crap," "hell," "turds," "butt." A man demeans his wife, calling her an "idiot." A pimp cruelly degrades a young prostitute.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A cruel husband is referred to as a drunk. One character smokes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Masked Saint is a faith-based movie "inspired by a true story" about a talented competitor who gives up his wrestling career to take over a struggling church. The Baptist congregation, in a fading part of a major Michigan city, is in desperate need of members, funding, and spiritual support. The novice minister must quickly grapple with some of society's serious issues (i.e., spousal abuse, prostitution), as well as an assortment of challenging personalities. The violence of the ring (seen in many bouts throughout the film, with the expected ferocity of kicking, punching, throwing, pummeling, pounding, and stomping) follows the hero to his new parish, where he is once again a participant in fights, this time real ones on the streets of his city (guns, a steel pipe, fists are the weapons in play). Strong religious messages are delivered throughout, most of them traditional and well-worn ("The Lord never gives us more than we can handle").
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The Masked Saint
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What's the Story?
THE MASKED SAINT (aka Chris Samuels, played by Brett Granstaff) is a popular wrestler. He is also a devoted family man and an ordained minister. After a run-in with Nick, a corrupt promoter, "The Saint" quits wrestling and is hired as the pastor of a decaying church in Michigan. With his supportive family in tow, Chris makes the move from Florida to the Midwest with strong faith, great intentions, and no experience. The church has few parishioners and no money and offers little in the way of enrichment. Beyond that, in short order, Chris encounters a bullying church leader, a vicious pimp, an abusive husband, and armed robbers, all of whom need straightening out by someone with exactly his physical prowess. So Chris puts his other talents to work -- both in the ring, to help finance the church, and on the streets, unrecognized in the Saint's mask, to save lives. Only a skeptical police officer and Chris's own struggles with pride may prevent him from restoring the church, redeeming its sinners, and finding joy and competence in his new endeavor.
Is It Any Good?
Good intentions and declarations of strong faith cannot save this poorly executed and wholly predictable movie that was "inspired by a true story." With few exceptions, the performances are clumsy and self-conscious. The characters are one-dimensional. The situations are hackneyed and surprise-free. The faith-based messages are actually dispiriting because they're repetitive, unoriginal, and lacking subtlety. Both Diahann Carroll and wrestler Roddy Piper (in his last role) make appearances, but their characters are equally one-note. Given all that and some brutal wrestling sequences and street violence, there's nothing to recommend this movie to general audiences. Even those who look forward to movies that affirm their beliefs may be disappointed.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the Saint as vigilante. Comic book superheroes save ordinary citizens from villains all the time, and audiences find that acceptable. In this movie, the real-life hero saves innocents and administers justice on the streets of a real city. Did you agree with the detective that the preacher was a criminal for that behavior? What are both the physical and moral dangers of taking matters into your own hands? What else could Chris have done?
Which, if any, characters in this movie surprised you? Why is it satisfying when characters go to unexpected emotional places? Did you know early on what would happen to Mindy over the course of this movie? To Mr. Lumpkin? To the church?
Should filmgoers expect excellence in movies that deal with topics about which they are already passionate? Should faith-based movies be held to the same standards as other films? Is that also true for films about other passions, such as baseball, dance, or science fiction?
- In theaters: January 8, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: April 5, 2016
- Cast: Brett Granstaff, Lara Jean Chorostecki, Diahann Carroll
- Director: Warren B. Sonoda
- Inclusion Information: Black actors
- Studio: Freestyle Digital Media
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Superheroes, Friendship
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: Some violence and mature themes
- Last updated: February 26, 2023
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