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Parents' Guide to


By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Tons of drug use, violence, and depressing stories.

Movie R 2000 147 minutes
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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 17+

Well acted but feels like it falls a bit short

A beautifully acted film...especially from Benicio del Toro who although does not master the Mexican accent at least does not appear to be Puerto Rican, which for portraying a fronteriza cop is a big plus. His wonderful portrayal of what happens if you do the best you can in a world that works to exploit your flaws. However, the biggest flaw of the film is that it is a bit too subtle in terms of the larger systemic issues as to why the War on Drugs continues and who it continues to profit from it. Just how much did that treatment center cost? Who has access to that? If people are making so much money dealing in the street then why are they still in the same situation? Humanizing complex issues that extinguish people's humanity is always welcome but so is exposing the larger system that perpetuates the misery.
age 18+

Mis-directed with too many camera filters to bring about unrealism in otherwise very real situations.

The director uses camera filters to muck up the videos, a failed attempt to create distinguishing color palettes. Weird angles as usual for directors trying to out an artistic touch, but too many movements with camera while filming. I don't like the camera filters it degrades the overall video which ends the same either way. The director should stick to Ocean's movies and Magic Mike, lol.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Director Steven Soderbergh ably keeps these stories on track, cutting back and forth to let them provide context and contrast for each other, and using different color palettes to distinguish them. There are also some good lines. But despite a first-rate all-star cast, the stories never connect or illuminate.

Overall, the move feels flat and a little formulaic, almost like one of those old Dragnet episodes about the dangers of drugs. The script moves the characters around like chess pieces. Packing so many stories in so little time requires a lot of narrative short-cuts like coincidences and stereotypes. The Catherine Zeta Jones character switches from innocent and doe-eyed to commanding and vicious faster than you can say "Michael Corleone." Individual scenes have some tension and some fine performances (especially by Benecio del Toro and Don Cheadle as cops), but the overall impact is muted.

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