Young adult Sophie (Mollee Gray) has to protect her siblings after financial collapse sends the United States into a riotous frenzy. In addition to helping them survive the post-apocalypse, they are attacked by Jack (Bosworth), who has a longstanding feud with Sophie’s father and now leads a gang of looting marauders.
What would you do if your family was physically attacked, and the order of things, including any sense of law or justice, had broken apart? While some Christian films have touched on post-apocalyptic themes, usually set far enough in the future or mysticized to the point of abstraction, The Reliant focuses on what could happen if humanity reverts to its most basic choices: fight or flight. To be clear, The Reliant is a distinctly Christian film with a strong affiliation to gun rights. The themes of the story and its plot are integrally interrelated in a way that they cannot be separated from each other, with a cameo by U.S. Concealed Carry Association President Tim Schmidt as himself cementing the relationship.
After the strength of the American dollar crumbles, rioting breaks out everywhere, from big cities to the small town where pediatric surgeon Rick (Kevin Sorbo) is raising his family. When a violent offender chases Rick back to his home, a firefight breaks out as Rick’s family defends itself with guns, bows, and a sword. Taking on great losses, including Rick’s death and the kidnapping of their mom, the younger generation takes refuge in the woods. This includes splitting up Rick’s daughter Sophie and her fiance, Adam (Josh Murray), as Sophie and her brother Jimmy (Blake Burt) attempt to shepherd their younger siblings, Faith (Kiera Strauss), Eli (Tyler Sanders), and AnnaLee (Marisa Hampton).
The film explores multiple complicated ideas in the course of Sophie’s struggle for survival. Questions about faith abound as Jimmy questions whether a good God would allow any of the things to happen, and the young women argue from Scripture and experience that faith doesn’t mean that life is easy or without suffering. Sophie and Adam are forced to re-evaluate their expectations about marriage and family. Characters, some heroic and some villainous, debate the justified use of force in different situations, and discuss whether it is acceptable to take a human life in the midst of tragedy or conflict. For the most part, these issues are not forced but happen naturally in the flow of the story that writer/producer Patrick Johnston has stitched together, under director Paul Munger’s (Princess Cut) smooth choreography of all of the story’s moving parts.
Intense from nearly the beginning, The Reliant is a Christian thriller that will force audiences to consider questions about how they would respond in the midst of danger and hardship, especially when it comes to the use of deadly force. Reconciling belief in a loving God with a familial desire to protect one’s family is not an easy matter, but The Reliant paints a picture where that decision could be everyone’s to make.
The Dove Take:
Dove recognizes that the violence level in The Reliant is PG-13 and that elements of the film may be troubling for younger children. Given the strong faith element involved, Dove approves the film for ages 13+.