A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this remake of a 1999 Thai thriller stars Nicolas Cage and has been targeting teen audiences -- and because of the hit man subject matter, it's likely to appeal to teen boys. Those who watch are in for a fair amount of violence, including a couple of grislier scenes of dismembered limbs. Two scenes feature a topless woman -- one during sex and another lounging. Other than those scenes, the sexuality is limited to flirting, embraces, hand-holding, and brief kisses. Nearly all of the movie's strong language (mostly "f--k" and its many derivatives) is spoken in Thai and subtitled in English. Expect some drinking and drug references, too.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Joe London (Nicolas Cage) is a professional hit man who lives by the cardinal rules of the job -- like "Erase every trace" and "Know when to get out." He's been hired to assassinate four men in Bangkok and plans to retire immediately after the last one. But after Joe hires a witty pickpocket (Shahkrit Yamnarm) as his go-between and meets a gorgeous deaf-mute pharmacist (Charlie Young), he starts breaking the rules and questioning his final hit.
Is it any good?
This remake of Hong Kong-bred twins Danny and Oxide Pang’s same-named 1999 Thai signature hit lacks the energy and fast-paced momentum that American audiences expect from action thrillers. Perhaps the Pangs' first mistake in redoing their film for Hollywood was collaborating with Cage, who's joined Eddie Murphy in the club of actors who don't say "No" enough. Cage is humorless as the loner protagonist, and the Pangs don't help the sleepy first half of the movie with their reliance on slow, boring narration.
Thai actor Yamnarm infuses some much-needed levity into a few scenes, and Chinese actress Young is so lovely you can't blame Joe for falling instantly for her gentle beauty. Ultimately, though, the action is artificial, the characters aren't likable enough, and Joe's not nearly as fascinating as moviedom's most iconic guns for hire.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of stories about assassins. Why are professional hit men the protagonists of so many action thrillers? Despite what they do, are they sympathetic characters? Why or why not? The movie implies that killing "bad" men is OK but killing "good" men isn't. What do you think about that message? What separates the "good" guys and the "bad" guys in this movie?
- In theaters: September 5, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: January 5, 2009
- Cast: Charlie Young, Nicolas Cage, Shahkrit Yamnarm
- Directors: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, language and some sexuality.
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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