Black Beach

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Black Beach Movie Poster Image
Cynical, violent political thriller has language, nudity.
  • NR
  • 2021
  • 110 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Even the supposedly good people sell out under pressure for money, power, and prestige. Autocratic self serving political leaders are in it for the money and may use violence against their own people to stay in power. Do-gooder White people often do damage in the name of anti-racist rhetoric.

Positive Role Models

Carlos is a well-intentioned blundering fool who keeps naively putting his friends in jeopardy as he seeks to put a criminal African leader in jail.

Violence

Multiple men, women, and kids are shot, with lots of blood. A long chase scene shows a man running from a hundred soldiers. Many are killed. A woman lies dying in a prison. She later dies in a hospital.

Sex

A man has oral sex with his pregnant wife. Nine years before, a man took his girlfriend for an abortion but he left before she had it. Now he discovers he has a 9-year-old son. A pregnant woman is seen nude in the bath (breasts shown).

Language

"F--k," "s--t," "bastard," "bitch," "hell," "damn," "scumbag," "ass," "whore," and "balls."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults use cocaine, cigarettes, and alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Black Beach is a 2020 Spanish political thriller that may leave all but the most sophisticated teens behind. A militaristic African regime is killing its citizens and claiming the violence is in the name of putting down domestic terrorists. Western powers are interested because of oil reserves, and corporations and the United Nations get involved. Multiple innocents are shot in cold blood. This is mostly in Spanish with English subtitles but other languages, including English, are spoken as well. A pregnant woman's breasts are seen while she is in the bath. A man has oral sex with his pregnant wife. Adults use cocaine, cigarettes, and alcohol, and language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bastard," "bitch," "hell," "damn," "scumbag," "dick," "ass," "whore," and "balls."

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What's the story?

BLACK BEACH tells the story of corruption at the highest levels on the world scene. Carlos (Raul Arevalo), seemingly a Spaniard, lives in Brussels and works for a multinational oil company. Representing his company, he heads to an emerging African nation, where he lived in his youth, to negotiate the release of an American supposedly kidnapped by local terrorists trying to overthrow the government. If he can organize the smooth release of the American, it will show that the young country is stable and can offer easy and orderly access to its oil. But Carlos finds the facts on the ground are different. There was no kidnapping. Instead, hidden documents could prove the country's authoritarian and militaristic president Ndong (Emilio Buale) is a criminal. Carlos also discovers the son he left behind years back, now being raised by his ex-girlfriend and a peaceful activist. The more involved the blundering Carlos becomes, the more he puts friends at risk and they start dropping like flies at the hands of Ndong and his soldiers. To avenge those deaths, Carlos arranges to release the documents, but international and economic pressures intervene, as well as his own mom. Carlos, in turn, has his own revenge.

Is it any good?

This is an over-plotted, runaway mess of a predictable movie splattered with clichés and standard boilerplate material stolen directly from other, far better movies. Yet it still offers a few moving moments and a sense that there may be hope for honesty and decency to prevail now and then on the world stage. Black Beach unsurprisingly suggests that racism is bad and likewise homophobia, plus world powers will support corrupt regimes as long oil keeps flowing.

 But director Esteban Crespo isn't good at sorting out complex narrative flow. Relying on tons of tedious exposition, he lays out a mashup of characters and situations and it's up to us to figure out what's going on. Why does Carlos run to a bar every morning and secretly leave stuff in a hidden plastic bag in the basement? And though Carlos doesn't seem stupid at first, he keeps leading corrupt authorities to the secret hideouts of good guys and getting them killed. As he makes one fatal mistake after another, yet maintains an over-serious superiority, the movie begins to feel like a parody about White guys coming to unsuccessfully save oppressed Black people. You'd think the guy would learn, but no.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how this movie resembles many other movies about corrupt governments and corrupt corporations. Does it supply any insights not already explored in dozens of other books and films? How does it compare to similarly-themed titles?

  • Who is the intended audience for this film? How can you tell?

  • minor-latin">The movie suggests that international interests -- oil companies, the United Nations -- are willing to prop up corrupt and oppressive governments as long as oil keeps flowing around the world. Do you think this is true? Why or why not?

Movie details

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For kids who love thrills

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