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The Netflix Files: Road Warrior, This Ain't

I owe Mad Max: Fury Road and apology.

I'm sorry, Mad Max: Fury Road -- I was too harsh on you. I said that you were overrated; I called your action scenes a one-note car chase/gunfight through an apocalyptic wasteland & thought they got repetitive very fast; I thought some of the characters like Immortal Joe's prized Breeders and the title character didn't get enough characterization; etc. Sometimes, you have to own up when you're wrong, and I was in this instance, especially when you come across watching something so laughably bad that it makes you pine for a better, more competently made picture.

Revelation Road: The Beginning of the End is just that sort of movie that made me pine for George Miller's expertly made, but flawed action-thriller, warts and all. In fact, this is a low-budget action movie that will take its cues from other better movies, but more on that later. Revelation Road was made by Pure Flix Entertainment. Who are they, you ask? They're a faith-based studio who churn out feature films and television programs with a Christian edge to it. They're also responsible for the surprise 2014 hit and previously reviewed drama God's Not Dead, which I called as one of the worst, most insulting films I've reviewed since doing this blog, and with this crappy action film, along with the bland action-thriller Jerusalem Countdown, they're 0 for 3 in my book.

Josh McManus  (David A.R. White, who also serves as a producer) is just your ordinary salesman, traveling the road to sell a bulletproof vest for a few dollars. Yes, I said that he's selling protective gear, and yes, he apparently only has one item. No forums, no boxes full of bulletproof vests...just one vest he tries to sell to a gun store owner, Frank (Ray Wise), only to be asked whether or not he places his faith in the thing he's selling, or in God. A tip for all salesmen out there: if someone asks you if you place your trust in the Almighty or in gear that can stop a bullet and save your life, just walk away, because it's not worth dumbing yourself down to earn a sale. Unfortunately for Josh, Frank and his granddaughter Beth (Noell Coet), they are held at gunpoint by the least-threatening gang of bikers I've seen on film. The actors playing them try to look tough and intimidating, but I don't know what's less believable: their posturing or David A.R. White suddenly flipping the script and becoming a gun-toting bad ass.

Yes, you heard that right -- Josh turns his personality on a dime and suddenly takes out three members of the biker gang as if he's Viggo Mortensen's Tom Stall from A History of Violence. Frank is thankful for his bravery, and he begins to tell the audience that he's a man with a dark past and can't ask for forgiveness for what he's done over the years, as if the audience don't have the brain capacity to see that cliche coming from a mile off. Also, if you're trying to explain that Josh has a dark past and that he was trained to be an emotionless killer, here's a tip: show, don't tell!

The Bikers, led Brian Bosworth (yes, 'The Boz' himself is in this) swears brutal vengeance on going after Frank, his wife and granddaughter. Why do they do this? Never once explained. Frank wasn't the one shooting up the place, so why go after his ass? Even less understandable than the bikers going after the wrong target is David A.R. White cast as a character that direct-to-video has-been actors like Steven Seagal or Dolph Lungren could play. Simply put: the man doesn't have the presence or the look of an action hero, and seeing him take on biker thugs or an irate domestic abusing husband in a motel brings nothing but unintentional fits of laughter.

In fact, the cheapness of the whole thing, coupled with the abysmal fight choreography would make this a really entertaining "so bad it's good!" episode for Internet reviewers like Allison Pregler and Brad Jones to endlessly mock, as well as seekers of B-grade schlock, but the film takes its premise way too seriously, thanks in part to how much the filmmakers lay the religious angle on thick. In key scenes where other characters interact with our main hero, the dialogue goes something like this: "Put your faith in Jesus Christ, and he will absolve you in all your sins!" or, "God has a plan for you, if you just open your heart."; etc, etc. The preaching gets really old really fast, and it feels as if I've stepped into a church sermon with Mad Mad Rockatansky as pastor.

To be fair and completely honest? Although Revelation Road: The Beginning of the End is a cheap, poorly made and construction action-thriller; it isn't the worst thing made by Pure Flix Entertainment. If anything, it's just really dumb and corny as hell, and if you take a look one night, it's good for some laughs and pretending you're with Kevin Murphy, Michael J. Nelson and the rest of the MST3K crew, providing commentary and hilarious analysis on what's being depicted onscreen.


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