A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The military setting brings out themes of the slippery nature of "truth" in battle heroics and taking responsibility for one's actions -- even in a desperate situation under dangerous enemy fire. Along with it is the idea of sacrifice, bereaved families, and under-the-radar grief in war causalities (the hero snubs a Presidential ceremony to instead privately comfort a lost soldier's grieving relatives).
Positive Role Models
Serling -- despite his on-off drinking problem -- represents a dutiful Army man in the modern, multi-racial armed forces, digging for the truth, even when it hurts (and when his superiors order him to back off). Not quite a recruiting-poster look at the US military, as officers cover up the truth of a sordid incident for glory-propaganda, and Army soldiers turn guns on each other, accidentally and on purpose. Some are addicts. Flashbacks toy with viewer preconceptions of woman warrior Karen Waldon (a divorced single mother), but ultimately portray her positively.
Violence & Scariness
Battlefield violence includes characters set on fire and shot at close range and bleeding. There is a spectacular, explosive suicide via car-train collision.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One off-color reference about "humping cheerleaders." Hunky guys in a locker room.
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The s-word, the f-word, "ass," "Jesus Christ," the c-word (as pertaining to females), the racist slur "ragheads."
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Products & Purchases
The hero uses Apple laptops.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters smoke. Serling drinks to steady his nerves after combat flashbacks and is accused/blackmailed about being an alcoholic. Soldiers in a VA hospital take pills and IV medication, sometimes to excess. One character confesses to being an IV drug abuser (which may or may not have been a consequence of war trauma).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that violence and death in this war drama includes gunfire casualties at close range (with blood), a helicopter crash, and a car wreck -- the latter actually being a suicide. One character is a drug addict, and the hero has a drinking problem (but seems to kick the habit). Swearing is R-level, with the f-bomb and the c-bomb dropped on a few significant occasions, and there's one use of an anti-Arab slur. The script is not exactly anti-military, but lethally mutinous actions happen, and undercurrents persist of generals and Pentagon spin doctors covering up and suppressing the truth. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
On the positive side, this sturdy drama has no obvious political agenda, which is refreshing for a Hollywood film. Nonetheless, there's a mildly by-the-numbers feel, kind of like a deluxe JAG or NCIS episode, as Serling bravely digs for the truth, no matter what. He's so idealized that even his flaws of heavy drinking and a possible "friendly fire" tragedy barely tarnish his halo.
In an interesting gambit, probably from the much-imitated Japanese drama Rashomon, we see Capt. Walden in different POVs, from a John Wayne-level roughneck to a terrified girl in over her head. The different viewpoints could spark an interesting discussion about women's roles in the military.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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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