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Review: ‘Missionary’ refuses to let go of his little flock

An image from "Missionary."
(Handout)

“Missionary” is one risky little movie. This latest iteration on the “Fatal Attraction” theme takes on the Mormon faith — or at least one of its fictional followers — in ways that are certain to inflame church members. For other viewers, this lean thriller deftly shows how the fervency needed to wholly embrace any one belief or institution can, if unchecked, yield dire consequences.

Such is the case of Elder Brock (Mitch Ryan, solid), a Mormon missionary with a darkly fuzzy past who begins a blazing affair with Katherine (Dawn Olivieri), a smalltown Florida mother separated from her once-unfaithful husband, Ian (Kip Pardue).

At first, Brock’s warmth toward Katherine and her 12-year-old son Kesley (Connor Christie) seems born more out of beatific goodness. But when the hunky Brock and the sexy, susceptible Katherine quickly become romantic, the lines between traditional Mormon propriety and secular mores startlingly blur.

Brock falls crazy in love with Katherine, whose second thoughts about Brock lead her back into the arms of Ian. A tense game of cat and mouse ensues as Brock, breaking seemingly every rule of his religion — not to mention a whole lotta laws — desperately, violently stalks Katherine and Kesley. His gonzo goal: to tear them away from Ian and make mother and son his “celestial family.”

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Director Anthony DiBlasi, working off an efficient script by Bruce Wood and Scott Poiley, skillfully tightens the screws on a story that leads to much collateral damage and an effective final showdown.

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“Missionary”

MPAA rating: R for violence, sexuality and language.

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Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Playing: AMC’s Burbank Town Center 8. Also on VOD.


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