Low-budget Vietnam War drama is thoughtful but very violent.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ambush is a Vietnam War-set action drama about U.S. soldiers' attempt to navigate enemy tunnels to find an important binder. Violence is very strong, with guns and shooting, a shocking surprise attack, blood and gore, dead bodies, stabbing, fighting, kicking, explosions, screaming, threats, a flamethrower, and more. A character falls into a pit and is impaled by bamboo spikes. Language is also strong, with many uses and variations on "f--k" and "s--t," plus "a--hole," "goddamn," "bitch," and more. Men are occasionally shown shirtless. There's sporadic cigarette smoking, and beer cans are seen on a table as the men play cards.
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What's the Story?
In AMBUSH, it's 1966, and the U.S. Army is fighting in Vietnam. General Drummond (Aaron Eckhart) delivers a binder full of information on Vietnamese operatives working with the United States to Captain Mora (Gregory Sims) at a remote camp in the Quang Tri Province. The camp is under the command of the inexperienced Corporal Ackerman (Connor Paolo), who's charged with keeping the binder safe until it can be transported out. Unfortunately, from out of nowhere, enemy soldiers attack and steal the binder. A tracker named Miller (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) discovers tunnels under the jungle floor, and Ackerman and his men are sent on the dangerous mission to map the tunnels and look for the binder. Can the squad survive this dangerous mission?
Is It Any Good?
Despite a creaky plot setup and a small budget, this Vietnam War story delivers commentary on the hypocrisy of war while still respecting the people who risk their lives to fight. Ambush begins with Eckhart's character delivering an exposition dump about the valuable binder, but it's clear that it's all just a MacGuffin (i.e. an object that everyone in a movie is after). But once it becomes clear that the movie is really about Ackerman -- headliners Eckhart and Rhys Meyers have relatively small roles -- things pick up. Ackerman is quite interesting: He's trying to be a leader and prove himself while wearing his insecurities on his sleeve. When the mission starts, the men are physically separated by rank, with the lowest scurrying in the tunnels, the next up traipsing through the jungle, and the highest seated behind comfortable desks. That the mission ultimately means nothing underlines Ambush's dark themes, culminating in a speech by General Drummond that's as empty as it is true.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Ambush's violence. How did it make you feel? Was it exciting? Shocking? What did the movie show or not show to achieve this effect? Why is that important?
The movie is dedicated to the 58,220 U.S. soldiers who gave their lives in the war in Vietnam. How does it aim to honor them? Do you think it succeeds?
What does the movie have to say about the way the military operates? About war in general?
Did you notice any positive diverse representations in the movie? Why is that an important aspect of the media we consume?
How are smoking and drinking portrayed? Are they glamorized? Are there consequences? Why is that important?
- In theaters: February 24, 2023
- On DVD or streaming: February 24, 2023
- Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Connor Paolo
- Director: Mark Earl Burman
- Studio: Saban Films
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, some bloody images, and language
- Last updated: March 9, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Top war movie is intensely violent, full of strong language.
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Outstanding docu is insightful, objective, and violent.
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