“The Reliant” probably played better in 2019, when it came out (VOD) than it does today on Netflix.
Why? It’s a trigger-happy faith-based survivalist thriller. A couple of weekends of pot-bellied, camo-wearing AK-47 brandishing rubes with “I need a haircut” signs in public kind of did for ultra-conservative survivalism what “Let them drink disinfectant” did to the “Stable Genius” — removed all credibility and any room for doubt that they’re entitled to any.
This is a nutty fable about civil breakdown, a family whose surgeon dad (Kevin Sorbo) has made them live by the Boy Scout Motto (“Be prepared”) and what happens to all those kids when dad is the first one gunned-down as the bikers turn rioters and all hell breaks loose.
A lot of debating is what happens. Because as they take arms and try to TCB, one (adult) child keeps preaching, “Thou shalt not kill” is in the Bible, no matter what the Russian-financed NRA wants you to believe.
The doctor (Sorbo) takes care of a little girl in his ER after her drunk-driving redneck daddy (Brian Bosworth) almost kills her.
Cut to some time later and riots are all over the TV, the doc’s family now includes that little girl, and guess who biker-daddy comes looking for when law and order breaks down?
Dad and oldest son Jimmy (Blake Burt) barely have time to load up at the gun shop before the mobs break in.
“Gun shop as last bastion of democracy” is entirely too subtle for this script. Let’s cast C-movie loon Eric Roberts as the owner, fighting to Make America Gun-Crazy Again.
It’s “bug out” time at home, but Dad has no sooner told the wife (Julia Denton), five kids and daughter Sophie’s fiance (Josh Murray) that “We are prepared for this” and “my priority is to keep you all SAFE” when he takes one from a sniper rifle.
Damn. And he was just rushing back in to empty out the gun safe!
Parentless, the story degenerates to low-grade camping (nearby, in case Mom returns) and living off the strife-torn land, with endless debates between just-got-my-first-gun Jimmy, 21, and Sophie (Mollee Gray of “A Night to Regret”), a “turn the other cheek” Christian pacifist.
Jimmy wants to go back and get those gun-safe guns. “We have to DEFEND ourselves!”
Sophie’s all “We don’t have WATER, Jimmy!” She doesn’t say “DUH” out loud. But look in her eyes. She’s thinking it.
Sophie’s faith is going to be tested, and she’s OK with a bow and arrow, just not guns. Not right away.
“I have a hard time praying prayers that don’t come to be.”
Join the club.
“Trust in GOD!”
“They’re just WORDS,” Jimmy shouts, all testostonery thanks to his firearm. “You can’t eat them! You can’t load them in a gun and SHOOT somebody with them!”
That’s right, Jimmy.
The situations are so arch and artificial as to make commenting on the acting (not empathetic) pointless.
Suffice it to say that faith-based filmmaker Paul Munger (“Princess Cut” and “Unbridled”) is a bit out of his comfort zone with “The Reliant.” You can’t blame him for wanting to cash in on that whole Christian “white nationalism” survivalism thing that’s sweeping his corner of the film audience these days.
Actually you can. All the stories he could have set out to tell, any one of which would have landed his three “names” for his cast (Sorbo, Roberts and Bosworth will take any gig these days), and he tries his hand at something that was going to be hateful, violent and toxic, even had it worked.
He’s put his name on a hateful piece of garbage only designed to engender one reaction — make your heart hurt.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, and thematic material involving guns
Cast: Kevin Sorbo, Mollee Gray, Blake Burt, Brian Bosworth, Josh Murray, Julie Denton and Eric Roberts.
Credits: script by J.P. Johnston. A Studio City release.