If somebody could convince Road to Redemption’s director, Robert Vernon II, not to write the next movie he directs, he might have a future. Vernon has potential: Redemption is beautifully shot, the action scenes are powerfully choreographed and there are even a few chuckles. But the positives about this movie are like patches on a badly designed quilt — no matter how entertaining a moment is here and there, the basic goods are shallow and ill-conceived. Amanda (Julie Condra, Beautiful) is a brainless Las Vegas material girl who, instead of going to Debtors Anonymous to solve her money woes, decides to “borrow” $250,000 from the safe in her Mafia kingpin boss’s office and bet it at the race track. Goodbye $250,000. And goodbye life on this earthly plane, unless Amanda returns the loot in a week. Her only recourse is dear old rich Grandpa Nathan (Pat Hingle), whom she hasn’t seen in 15 years. Despite a lifetime of ignoring his family, Grandpa Nathan has finally found Jesus and wants to make amends. He’ll give Amanda the money if she’ll accompany him on a fishing trip to Redemption, Mont., where they’d spent happy times in her childhood. So they head off through the spectacular scenery of the American West. Amanda is being pursued on two levels: by dumb earthly guys and by God. Her boyfriend (Jay Underwood, Girl’s Room) takes the prize as the most annoying, silly wonder in cinematic history. Then there’s an assortment of Mafia losers and a psychic/psychotic man-hunter, played by Wes Studi (Last of the Mohicans). We see snippets of God in Grandpa Nathan’s forbearance of Amanda’s unceasing snottiness and hear God in boring excerpts from the 6-o’clock gospel show on the car radio. After an endless string of car chasing/car crashing disasters, Amanda finally asks God to help her and — miracle of miracles — Grandpa Nathan survives his heart attack and Amanda decides to give up her boyfriend (thank God!) and live with Grandpa in his mountain cabin. For a movie that spoutsChristian propaganda (it’s a production of Rev. Billy Graham’s ministry), Road to Redemption suffers major cosmic blind spots. There is only one — repeat one — female character of any import in the entire movie! Amanda has boyfriends, but no girlfriends. A ton of eager males want to help her, such as the cops who rescue her in the nick of time and — in the best scene in the movie — the Harleys for Jesus guys who are so sexy they could roar en masse into my backyard any time. But no women help her — not even a born-again waitress to dish out advice with the chicken salad. God’s representatives –the voice on the radio, Grandpa Nathan, and the ridiculous bearded preacher in the jail cell in the film’s absurd epilogue — are all guys. To preach redemption in a movie and not portray women in the process is a shameful indication of how out of touch the people who planned and paid for this movie really are.
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