By Monique Jones,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Violent action film falls short on representation.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It takes perseverance and tenacity to find solutions to near-impossible problems.
Positive Role Models
Abby does everything in her power to escape a killer. She uses all of her mental and physical resources to keep going and save herself.
Cast is racially diverse, but all of the people of color die, which reinforces media stereotypes. Main character Abby is a woman at the center of a genre that's typically male dominated, but many other women (including women of color) are victims. Film takes place in the Middle East, and much of the setting is viewed through the stereotypical "desert" lens. Terrorism is alluded to, again playing into stereotypes -- despite the fact that the actual villains are characters employed by the U.S. government.
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Violence & Scariness
Scenes with blood, murder, and death. Scenes of a hospital bombing and a drone strike. Punching, descriptions of violence, and scenes with torture.
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Language includes "s--t," "f--k," "hell," "ass," "bastard," "goat-f---er," "clusterf--k," "motherf----r."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Scene with alcohol bottles.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Black Site is an action thriller starring Michelle Monaghan as a CIA officer who fights to survive a killer in a secret prison bunker. The biggest issues are violence and swearing. Expect scenes with blood, murder, and death, as well as a hospital bombing, a drone strike, and torture. Strong language includes "f--k" (and many variations), "s--t," and more. While the cast is racially diverse and the movie centers on a woman -- which is unusual for the genre -- the characters of color are killed off, and there's some stereotyping of the Middle East.
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What's the Story?
BLACK SITE focuses on Abby (Michelle Monaghan), a CIA officer who has endured hardship and is set on finding the person who ruined her family, a man who goes by the name Hatchet (Jason Clarke). Before Abby can interrogate him, he unleashes a killing spree within the covert prison to which she tracked him. Abby must now focus on survival in order to learn the truth behind her family's deaths.
Is It Any Good?
Black Site is far from perfect, but it hits all the standard beats of a military-centric action film. Interestingly enough, it also hits the same beats as horror-action films like Alien and Predator, in which characters are stuck in a room or other closed environment with a killer. Abby even wears a white tank top, evoking Ripley in the Alien franchise. And Hatchet feels a lot like an animal let loose in a bunker.
While the film succeeds in its action elements, it fails when it comes to portraying characters of color. Every character of color is treated as fodder and killed off, some very early in the film after only minutes of dialogue. Also, even though the film seems like it wants to be a feminist take on the action thriller, Monaghan is the only woman who makes it to the end of the film, while all of the other women (non-White ones, to be exact) are killed. But that big caveat aside, Black Site isn't a terrible way to spend an hour and a half.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how the Middle East is typically depicted in films. How does Black Site compare?
How does Abby show perseverance? Why is that an important character strength?
How does the film portray women and characters of color? How could it have improved its portrayals of diverse characters? Why is positive representation in the media important?
- In theaters: May 3, 2022
- On DVD or streaming: May 3, 2022
- Cast: Michelle Monaghan, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke
- Director: Sophia Banks
- Studio: Vertical Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Character Strengths: Perseverance
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong/bloody violence and language throughout
- Last updated: September 4, 2022
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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