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 downbeat tale of an unstoppable plague virus has a strong atmosphere of hopelessness and doom, with occasional dead/decaying bodies show (the only time a big pile of corpses appears, they're all encased in opaque bags). Violence includes several shootings, some at close range with blood. Swearing is PG-13 level, with one use of the F-word. Main boyfriend-girlfriend characters have obviously been sexually active, though no sex is actually shown. Parents have apparently been abandoned to perish, and we see small children who are similary destined for death. The main characters commit acts of vandalism, drunkenness, and recklessness.
What's the story?
An unstoppable, lethal plague virus -- unexplained but hinted at originating in Asia -- transmitted by touch and by breath from person to person, has devastated humankind worldwide. By the time this movie opens, most people are dead, no organized society remains, and it's every man for himself. College-age brothers Brian (Chris Pine) and his younger, brainy sibling Daniel (Lou Taylor Pucci), and their girlfriends drive a stolen car to a well-remembered childhood beach-resort, evidently in the Gulf of Mexico, where Brian and Daniel plan to wait out the plague with their surfboards. But, as they encounter other scattered, sometimes dangerous survivors, infection, deceit, and desperation tear the foursome apart.
Is it any good?
Pine is excellent in the showy part of a strutting hellion who treats it as a chance to act like a jerk; possibly this is his way of coping in a nightmare scenario. But the minimalist, no-frills approach to the characters, and to the disaster itself, leaves the film feeling often as narrow and empty as the roads the protagonists drive.
Paramount released to DVD this moody, small-scale sci-fi-tinged drama (set in lonely highways and small settlements, no spectacle) after one of its stars, Chris Pine, scored a star-making lead in a big-scale sci-fi drama -- as the "new" Captain James T. Kirk in an epic Star Trek relaunch. Both pictures received a PG-13, but CARRIERS, without a jillion Federation Credits depending on its success, has the "luxury" of being much more disturbing and grim. Unlike similar blockbuster treatments of the mass-human-extinction theme like I Am Legend, there's no hope or miraculous reprieve for viewers, who are asked to consider how folks would behave (or misbehave) if everyone was dying/dead.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way the main characters behave. Do you think their reaction to a virtual end-of-the-world situation is realistic or not?
Ask which characters, if any, are worthy of emulation. Bad-boy Brian suggests that his seemingly more sensitive brother Daniel is no less ruthless than he is, just smarter in letting others do the dirty work and appearing guiltless himself. Is this so?
What do you think might happen to the characters left alive at the ending? How would one go about dwelling in an empty country?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.