A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
One character, seemingly an unredeemable racist and criminal, completely cleans up his act. Others are either virtuous (but ineffective), or entirely evil.
Violence & Scariness
Numerous fights and particularly brutal murders.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A prison rape and a lusty skinhead girlfriend.
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Very Strong language.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking and drug-dealing.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this flawed but live-wire drama of two brothers caught up in a violence-ridden SoCal skinhead lifestyle raises some important points, but the mixture of very R-rated realism (strong language, hideous violence, and frank sex) makes this a very guarded choice for anyone but older teens and up. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
It's certainly "artier" than most films dealing with social ills; it's a live-wire drama, not a dry, TV movie-of-the-week that usually arrives complete with a teacher's study guide and lab coats. Some of the cut-and-dried reasons behind racist youth gangs (lack of economic opportunity, weak adult supervision) can be fleetingly discerned here. Mostly the vibe is emotional, not intellectual, making white-power lifestyles and repugnant politics feel as attractive as rock music to angry young people, then giving the viewer a tragic fadeout to ponder over the consequences. There are times when this movie scores trying to be a strong take on a topic that leaves no audiences feeling neutral. And there are other times when you can feel the filmmakers shaking their mighty fingers at the audience, naughty, naughty. Welcome to the After-School Special of your worst nightmares.
Norton was Oscar-nominated for his role, which he carries off with frightening physicality and conviction. You believe him thoroughly as a swastika-tattooed, head-shaved fanatic, and as a humbled, wiser ex-con trying to do good instead. But the key character of Danny seems badly underwritten, as are the simplistic motivations ascribed to the pathology in the Vineyard home. A late scene laying a lot of blame on the late Mr. Vineyard in the first place seems too convenient. First-time director Tony Kaye clashed with both the film studio and actor Norton over how to handle the story and tried to take his name off the completed film.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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Our Editors Recommend
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