I will admit to having been just a wee bit cynical when director Roger Lindley contacted me about checking out his new faith-based psychological thriller Taken By Grace, a film picked up by Pure Flix Entertainment for its home video release.
Having viewed more than my share of so-called faith-based psychological thrillers, I've generally found them either significantly lacking in terms of their faith-based roots or woefully lacking in terms of any true thrills.
Taken By Grace is different. While not a flawless film, Taken By Grace is an involving and genuinely thrilling film about a man, Lucas Blackstone (Angus Macfadyen, Braveheart and TV's Chuck), who is released after several years in prison and heads back to the small town where he lived determined to kill the man who killed his son years earlier. To accomplish this task, Lucas kidnaps Carrie (Haylie Duff, TV's 7th Heaven) and Shawn Everett (Bradley Dorsey, Meant to Be), a Christian couple in a troubled marriage out camping in the woods.
A good amount of the credit for the film's effective thrills must go to Angus Macfadyen, whose performance as Lucas Blackstone is so multi-layered and complex that you're never quite sure exactly where he's coming from and exactly where he's going. While we're certainly aware early on that Lucas has been released from prison, it's a true testament to the power of Macfadyen's performance that even as his story unfolds and we learn about his intentions that he continues to hold our interest and, I'd dare say it, even our sympathy. Macfadyen found just the right tone to convincingly portray a potentially menacing killer within the context of a faith-based cinematic effort. While the film is largely devoid of anything of a graphic nature, there's enough edge within Macfadyen's Lucas to make us surrender to the scenario.
As the troubled married couple tossed into a challenging situation, Haylie Duff and Bradley Dorsey also do quite the nice job though their characters are developed from a more traditional Christian perspective. There were a couple lines with Shawn, in particular, where it felt like I was more sitting in church than watching a couple fight for their marriage and their lives with a gun in their faces. It's a minor quibble, but a noticeable one that proved a bit of a distraction.
Production quality for an indie production is generally fine with director Roger Lindley pacing the film nicely and also doing a terrific job of not revealing too much information too quickly. D.P. Darren Rydstrom lenses the film effectively, though the film's night scenes did occasionally not live up to the clarity of the rest of the film.
While most fans of faith-based cinema tend to expect anything with a "Christian" label to fall into the familiar "family friendly" arena, Taken By Grace is a more intelligent and mature film that should probably be limited to teenagers and up given some of the film's themes involving violence, a marital affair, and fairly consistent alcohol use throughout the film. While these things are treated well and certainly work to create the compelling and realistic tone of the film, we're definitely not talking Veggie Tales here.
To find out more about Taken By Grace, visit the Pure Flix Entertainment website.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic