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Movie Review

When chaos and anarchy break out across the nation, things go from bad to worse in mere moments for Rick and his family.

You see, Dr. Rick is a skilled physician, always ready for an emergency. But when danger comes to his front steps, he doesn’t hesitate to toss his scrubs and reach for his guns. Most of his family, including his son, Jimmy, fully supports his conviction to defend his family by any means necessary. But his daughter, Sophie, is anti-gun (largely due to a family tragedy years before), and she’d rather pursue a peaceful solution than fill a shotgun with shells.

But rioters aren’t looking for a peaceful solution. And one rioter, Jack, is out for revenge against Rick. You see, Rick failed to save the life of his young daughter Faith after a tragic accident. So now he’s come for Rick—and anyone from his family who gets in the way.

Filled with blind rage, Jack and his band of villainous rogues kill Rick in a matter of mere moments. That prompts the surviving members of his family to flee into a nearby forest.

Now, the remaining members of the family, siblings Sophie, Jimmy, AnnaLee, Eli and Faith must band together, despite their differences, and fight to save their lives.

But not every victory comes in the form of a firearm.

Positive Elements

Sophie and her siblings have fundamental disagreements, but they learn to forgive one another through each difficulty. Sophie and her fiancé, Adam, also strive to work through ways the unexpected conflict has driven a wedge into their relationship.

Sophie’s father, Rick, is a beloved dad and husband whose goal and desire is to protect his family at all costs—which includes teaching them about gun safety and exhorting them to stick together and defend themselves once things slip out of control.

Rick chats with his future son-in-law, Adam, about the sacrifice in love and marriage.

Spiritual Content

Sophie and her siblings each hold their own varied levels of faith throughout the film, faith that was taught to them by their mom and dad. Sophie’s parents, both in the present and in flashbacks, teach their children about forgiveness and mercy.

Sophie loves God, but she finds it difficult to forgive and to move past hurt. She also openly struggles in her relationship with God, questioning how to make sense of suffering and loss in relationship to her faith.

AnnaLee is the strongest of her siblings. She sings hymns to God, doles out wisdom, constantly shares Scripture to encourage her brothers and sisters, and perseveres even though she’s mocked as being “too spiritual” by her pessimistic brother, Jimmy.

Jimmy grapples through most of the film with forgiving himself, past hurts, anger and the idea that God is good when bad things happen. [Spoiler Warning] He eventually comes to faith and is baptized, along with another man.

Eli and Faith, the youngest of the siblings, both evidently have a relationship with God. They learn to forgive and offer grace faster than the others.

One of the siblings says, “God promises not to give us more than we can handle,” and, “Do not blame God for the devil’s sin.” Sophie talks to her siblings about heaven. And the youngest of the siblings, Faith, says, “God can save anybody.” A broken, desperate man asks for forgiveness and is warmly accepted into Sophie’s family clan.

The Reliant also emphasizes God’s goodness despite difficulty and pain, as well as the importance of forgiveness, grace, faith and mercy. Characters also ask hard questions of God and choose to press forward in their faith, even in moments of deep confusion and mistrust.

Sexual Content

A husband kisses his wife on the head and they flirt. Sophie and her fiance, Adam, flirt and hug.

Violent Content

As lawlessness, driven by economic pressures, erupts in town and around the world, the news broadcasts images of cars being lit on fire, violent protests and crowds breaking into fist fights. Several men engage in hand-to-hand combat, and one of the men stumbles and dies as his head lands on shards of glass.

Similarly, violent male protestors punch, kick, shoot and kill innocent men, women and children (we see dead, bloodied bodies and people dying slowly). These same men carry machetes and numerous firearms, as well as lobbing incendiary Molotov cocktails.

An injured man runs into a hospital with his bloodied daughter in his arms, hoping to save her. His daughter is wheeled away to surgery. When she eventually dies, he frantically pulls a gun on a police officer in his anger and grief.

A young man is stabbed in the neck and slowly dies. Sophie and her siblings bury their dead father. Young Eli shoots a man in self-defense. Jimmy and Eli kill a deer and skin it. Jimmy’s leg gets caught in an animal trap. A young boy accidentally kills his little sister with his father’s loaded gun. (We don’t see the shooting, but we hear the gun shot and see people gathered at a funeral.)

A young girl exclaims, “It’s not murder to kill someone in self-defense.” Men and women are threatened at gun point with knives and other weaponry. Sophie has a nightmare that her fiancé is shot and killed during their wedding ceremony.

Crude or Profane Language

A violent rioter yells, “Shut up you little girl,” and calls a family “pathetic.” A man jokingly calls his friend an “idiot.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

A group of ruffians pass around a flask. Sophie finds a used needle laying on a counter. A few men are accused of consuming too much alcohol.

Other Negative Elements

Sophie lies to her family and hides the key to a gun safe, endangering her entire family. She also struggles to forgive her fiancé and her loved ones when their actions contradict her moral compass.

Siblings and friends argue, yell and withhold forgiveness. Eli makes a joke about burping.

Conclusion

One of the most difficult questions that we face in hard times is this: Why does God let bad things happen? It’s a question that forces us to examine ourselves, our hurts and our faith. And the greater the tragedy, the deeper that question penetrates.

The Reliant shows us a world in which civilization as we know it deteriorates suddenly and without warning. That collapse leads to tragedy, bloodshed and death for members of a family who lose their loving patriarch very early on in this story. Questions about God’s goodness soon follow—as do philosophical and theological questions about whether it’s acceptable for Christians to defend themselves forcefully against violent threats.

The Reliant unapologetically underscores the Second Amendment’s protection of Americans’ right “to keep and bear Arms.” It also emphasizes the conviction that faith, mercy and forgiveness are not in conflict with that right to self-defense. Some Christians will likely agree with this constellation of spiritual and civic values, while others may question some of the theological statements this admittedly melodramatic story makes.

The film, currently scheduled for one night of release via Fathom Events locations around the country on October 24, has already stirred up considerable controversy. Last year, it was slapped with an unexpected R-rating for its depiction of violence, which prompted writer and producer Dr. J.P. Johnston to appeal the ruling by the Motion Picture Association of America.

A re-cut of the film with slightly less violence eventually earned a more lenient PG-13 rating. Johnston described the process in an email to Plugged In:

“Alex Kendrick, who was a blessing to us in post-production, and Tim Schmidt, the CEO of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, both felt that the 12-year-old boy skillfully using a firearm to save his sister from a villain was the primary thing that prompted the ‘R’ rating. When I met with the MPAA board to deliver my appeal, … I mentioned 10 PG-13 films that were far more violent than The Reliant—World War Z, Suicide Squad, Expendables 3, Jurassic World, etc. They rejected my appeal and we had to raise funds to re-edit the film to pull down on the blood VFX. I did not alter the scene of the young man defending his sister, yet thankfully we still got the PG-13 re-rating. I give God the praise for that. Since Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, I've never seen a film so provoke the Left and simultaneously so excite religious conservatives. With the mass shootings, our subtle defense of the right to keep and bear arms makes the film very timely.”

The Reliant’s themes will likely resonate with viewers who share the filmmaker’s convictions with regard to faith and the Second Amendment.

Pro-social Content

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Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

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Profanity/Violence

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Episode Reviews

Credits

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Author

Cast

Eric Roberts as Mr. Jones; Kevin Sorbo as Rick; Brian Bosworth as Jack; Ryan Buggle as Young Jimmy; Mollee Gray as Sophie; Julia Denton as Liz; Josh Murray as Adam; McKenna Bintz as Young AnnaLee; Tyler Sanders as Eli; Marisa Lynae Hampton as AnnaLee; Kevin Wayne as Mac; Blake Burt as Jimmy; Ian Lauer as Clint; Jesse Boone as Chris; David Benham as Dave; Kiera Strauss as Faith; Nico Zahniser as Robby

Director

Paul Munger ( )

Distributor

Fervent House Media

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In Theaters

October 24, 2019

On Video

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