Burn Out

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Burn Out Movie Poster Image
Tedious French action film has violence, language, drugs.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 107 minutes

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

Positive Messages

No good deed goes unpunished.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tony seems brave but stuck in a nowhere life. He agrees to run money for drug lords when his girlfriend stupidly holds drugs for a local criminal and then loses them. Characters say they don't want to work with Arabs.


A girl is beat up by drug dealers when the goods she was holding are stolen from her. Tony is thrown from his bike and has a bloody face. People shoot at him, chase him in scary races on highway. Others are shot or beaten to death. A man is hit by a car, bloodied, thrown in trunk of car. There he experiences another car crash but is pulled out to safety.


Tony and his ex-girlfriend kiss.


"F--k," "s--t," "bastard," "bitch," "ass," "damn," "piss," and "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug dealers deal with large stashes of drugs and sums of money. A boss forces his tired employee to take uppers so he can effectively stay awake during nighttime work. Adults smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Burn Out is a 2018 French film (with English subtitles) about a motorcycle racer trying to turn pro while also, unwillingly, running drug money for a Paris dealer threatening his ex-girlfriend and young child. Although much of the movie plays like an intense video game, with high-speed chases, guns, and danger, this isn't for kids. Drug lord enemies are beaten and killed. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bastard," and "ass," and one character takes uppers to keep going as he works through the night for his criminal bosses. Several people are either beaten or shot to death. Characters say they don't want to work with Arabs.

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What's the story?

BURN OUT follows Tony (Francois Civil), a young French motorcycle racer who has a part-time job at a warehouse while he trains to gain a spot on a prestigious racing team. Just when it looks like he might get a break, he learns that his ex-girlfriend Leyla (Manon Azem), who is the mother of his son, has agreed to hold drugs for a local dealer for some extra money. When the drugs she held are stolen, she's beaten by the gang, which is run by Miguel (Olivier Rabourdin) and his henchman, Jordan (Samuel Jouy). Leyla's life is in danger until she can pay Miguel back. Tony asks his childhood friend Moussa (Narcisse Mame), who is a lower-level drug dealer, for advice, but although he's told to stay out of it, Tony confronts Jordan and Miguel. They tell him if he does two months of speeding -- nighttime motorcycle deliveries of cash and drugs -- he can work off her debt. Miguel is merciless and doesn't seem to care that by forcing Tony to speed, he's taunting the police to chase him on his runs. Somehow Tony evades them, but on his last run, Jordan orders him around once too many times and Tony snaps. A beating and shooting ensue, and Moussa has to step in to save Tony and his ex-girlfriend from Miguel. Just when it seems everything is OK, Tony foolishly and inexplicably puts himself back in danger.

Is it any good?

Unless you love motorcycles, the movie is bound to feel tedious and repetitive. Burn Out is a generic chase film, start to finish. Fans of violent video games, full of such chases and shoot-outs, may enjoy the back and forth, but some scenes seem designed to do nothing more than set up Tony getting on his bike and riding as fast as he can, whether he's racing other guys at the track, evading the police, or running from drug dealers. 

Tony doesn't demonstrate much in the way of brain power: His life is drudgery and he acts like a robot. So it's downright exciting when he comes up with an actual idea an hour and 20 minutes into the film. The suggestion that he can mastermind a takeover of Miguel's drug empire for his friend Moussa seems fantastical. Nothing earlier in the movie prepares for this moment of enlightenment in the slightest way. But hey. The film feels unintentionally funny when Miguel says he won't mingle with "Arab" drug dealers. They're the "scum," he claims, even though he's the guy dealing drugs and shooting people he doesn't like.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Tony's protective instincts in Burn Out. Does it seem wise for him to try to negotiate over his ex-girlfriend's debt with violent drug dealers? What else could he have done?

  • Tony tries to do a good deed to protect his ex and his child, but he's helping drug dealers, who hurt many people with their product. Does the good he's doing outweigh the bad?

  • How does this compare to other action movies you've seen?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

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