Synopsis by Janiss Garza
Smashing Barriers was originally a 15-episode serial that Vitagraph eventually distilled down to just six reels and released as a feature. Needless to say, the action in those half-dozen reels is nonstop; with the never-ending barrage of stunt work, death-defying feats and last-minute rescues, there isn't a dull moment to be had. Because of his father's taunts, Dan Stevens (William Duncan) refuses any financial aid and goes out West to make good on his own. He finds work at a logging camp owned by Benjamin Cole (Frederick Darnton). "Wirenail" Hedges, the corrupt foreman (Joe Ryan), kidnaps Cole. Helen, Cole's daughter (Edith Johnson), shows up with the deed to the property and Hedges, his face covered by a mask, takes her prisoner. Stevens' claim also has an oil well, and the wicked Hedges intends to get that too. But Stevens uses superhuman efforts to rescue Cole and Helen and to put the villain to rout.