Lucas Black first came to our attention as a remarkable young actor in such films as Sling Blade, All the Pretty Horses, Ghosts of Mississippi, and Crazy in Alabama. So, perhaps it's not surprising that Black would so fully immerse himself in the Affirm Originals release Legacy Peak, a faith-based and family-friendly film streaming exclusively on Pure Flix in which the now almost 40-year-old actor shares much of his screen time with young actors Kyleigh Bakker and Roman Engel.
In the film, Black is Jason, a man who has fallen in love with Noelle (Ina Barron) and is desperate to have her two kids, Sam (Kyleigh Bakker) and Ben (Roman Engel), like him. Planning the perfect Christmas getaway trip to the isolated mountain cabin of Noelle's father, Jason is determined to use this time to build a positive relationship with Sam and Ben. However, when unexpected obstacles arise this dream trip becomes the type of life-threatening challenge that will either tear Jason and the kids apart or draw them even closer together.
Co-written and directed by Aaron Burns, Legacy Peak is a heartfelt and spirited motion picutre that tackles real-life issues against the backdrop of life's unexpected challenges and the fact that we all show up in relationships with our own baggage and the challenges and mistakes that we've made from the past. There's never really a moment when you believe that everything's going to turn out anything other than alright, but this is a PG-rated family action adventure and this is a film as much about the journey as the destination. We know without a doubt that Jason is going to win the hearts of these two kids, though it's still an absolute joy watching it all unfold.
It's clear from early in the film that faith is a big part of Jason's life, yet Black does a tremendous job of showing how we can still have doubts, fears, and challenges along the way. Faith doesn't always keep us from life's challenges - it equips us to handle them. The Alabama-born Black has a sort of "guy next door" charm about him and that charm comes fully alive in this low-key but winning family charmer.
As Ben, Roman Engel gives the film much of its heart and enthusiasm. Already willing to like Ben for the most part, Engel's Ben is a heartwarming and resourceful child whom you simply can't help but fall in love with along the way.
A film like Legacy Peak requires the obligatory edgy sibling who's yet to be won over and Kyleigh Bakker's Sam fits the bill quite nicely. Initially qualifying as downright hostile, it's' Sam whose character changes the most over the course of Legacy Peak and one can't help but think that this performance is likely to have the faith-based film industry knocking on the door of this relative newcomer. While these transformational characters can occasionally play an awful lot of false notes, Bakker convinces as someone who's dealing with her own baggage but who genuinely longs for family.
Ryan Spacone's lensing for Legacy Peak is pristine throughout as he captures both the beauty of this rural setting and the building of relationships over the course of this adventure. Wolf lovers should be aware that there are a couple somewhat challenging scenes involving the predatory nature of wolves, though given the film's PG rating these scenes are rather mild but may need an explanation with children who are particularly sensitive to what is an obvious act of self-defense.
Much like the Burns family's Beyond the Mask, Legacy Peak is a vibrant and spirited family adventure with an obvious faith-based foundation and positive messaging for the entire family. The adventures here are for the most part quite gentle with the real emphasis on perseverance, transforming one's life from the past, and learning how to depend on one another. For those seeking a heartfelt and inspiring motion picture for the entire family, Legacy Peak will most assuredly satisfy.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic