The Masked Saint – A Match of Two Natures

TheMaskedSaint-featured“The Masked Saint” is based upon the novel by pastor and former professional wrestler Chris Whaley. In the film, Chris Samuels (played by Brett Granstaff) has decided that it is time to hang up the tights and replace them with ties as he follows God’s leading to become a pastor. But while trying to shepherd a dying flock, Chris finds himself at the wrong place at the right time and becomes an occasional masked vigilante fighting crime. Mix all that with Chris reentering the wrestling ring to financially support his church and family, and you have a story that looks at the dual natures battling within mankind — that of the flesh and that of the spirit. “I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me” (Romans 7:22-23 NLT).

The film attempts to explore such questions as: What does it mean to be a man? What is the right thing to do? Who am I — the person with or without the mask? The answers to these questions are complicated, and the film does not seem to really answer any of them clearly. Nevertheless, they are still questions worth thinking about.

 

“Masked” opportunities

I am hesitant to say that the film completely missed all of its opportunities, but I will say that the messages were certainly hidden. The primary feeling I had leaving the theater was: confusion. The plot, characters and motivations were all confusing. I rarely understood why people were doing what they were doing, and many times the story just seemed to contradict itself. The viewer does not quite understand “why” things are happening except maybe the explanation that people are illogical, so stop trying to make sense of it.

On a good note, the overall cinematography and sound mixing was up to par. There are several motivational scenes like when Chris tries to inspire his congregation to love their community and fix their church. Of course, it would have been nice to see the church actually coming together to do the changing, but the film just kind of skips ahead to the end results. Also, not to spoil anything, but my favorite part of the film is when Chris decides to wrestle not as The Saint, but as himself without the mask.

If you like professional wrestling, then there is much to enjoy from this film. In fact, the entire film sort of plays out like an over-stylized, melodramatic episode of WWE. The athleticism that so many find compelling in pro wrestling is also there. All this to say, my younger middle-school self would have loved this movie!

 

Trying to “pin” down a good story

When we try to judge a film on its quality, we must remember to try and judge it by its own merits. In other words: What is the film trying to do, and does it accomplish that goal? I think all in all, “The Masked Saint” is what it intends to be. It is an entertaining film with an interesting “truish” premise, but it could definitely be a lot tighter story-wise. The struggle that takes place in a wrestling ring is a clear metaphor for the struggles that one community, one church, one family and one man experience in trying to do the right thing. It is not for everyone, but it can still be enjoyable. If nothing else, your adolescent boys will really enjoy the wrestling matches.

“The Masked Saint” premieres on January 8, 2016 and co-stars the late wrestling Hall of Famer Roddy Piper. It is rated PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements including suggestive scenes about the degradation of women. For info and to watch the trailer visit themaskedsaint.com

 

Finley Walker is a freelance writer and doctoral student at SEU. He can be reached at fwwalker@liberty.edu.

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