A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that characters use profanity and make a few derogatory comments toward women and girls. The suspense in the film may make it too frightening for more sensitive viewers. Some of the younger characters die, occasionally graphically, and many characters carry guns. One character holds a gun to the head of two different men during a standoff. The film deals with war and violence.
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What's the story?
In 1995, as the story goes, a Chechen rebel takes over part of the country, gains access to nuclear weapons and submarines, and makes threats that even hardened submarine captain Frank Ramsey (Gene Hackman) believes he'll back up with fire power. When the rebel is believed to have the access codes to fire those nuclear weapons, Ramsey, his crew and new Lt. Commander Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington) board the USS Alabama and engage the enemy. When the sub loses radio contact, the crew must decide: Does it fire nuclear weapons, or wait? That fight becomes physical as mutiny breaks out, guns come out, and sailors nearly lose their lives.
Is it any good?
With an all-star cast and a compelling subject -- nuclear war with an unpredictable adversary -- CRIMSON TIDE is worthy viewing for any teen considering joining the military. When the film was released in 1995, filmmaker Tony Scott couldn't have known terrorists would attack the U.S. and the whole country would be on high alert. This film channels those anxieties into dramatic fare that's sure to be remembered even if the suspense is sometimes hard to sit through. All the bells, whistles, red lighting, and operatic scores may be enough to keep most teens entertained, and some may delight in recognizing their favorite Soprano, James Gandolfini, as Lt. Bobby Dougherty. Likewise, they'll recognize Lt. Peter 'WEAPS' Ince as Lord of the Rings' Viggo Mortensen and even Chicken Little's Steve Zahn.
Still, teens may roll their eyes at the more talky parts. Indeed, some things don't translate. Kids growing up in the age of suicide bombers may not understand the grip the threat of nuclear war held on this country in the 1980s. And they are unlikely to relate to the bigger coming-of-age drama within the film -- that of diplomatic and quietly charismatic Hunter succeeding Ramsey's brute strength. Teens and parents may not be able to help themselves from asking which approach to war prevails today, and which they support. But for those interested in the reason for wars there's plenty of fodder. The film starts with jocular questioning of whether the U.S. should have dropped the bomb on Japan in World War II. Later, Hunter explains his view of war: "The purpose of war is to serve a political end, but the true nature of war is to serve itself. In a nuclear world, a true enemy can't be destroyed. In a nuclear world," viewers are told, "the true enemy is war itself."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about current events. Parents may want to use the film as an opportunity to talk about the political unrest in Chechnya, Russia. They may also want to discuss how nuclear war against a country is different from fighting terrorism. How does the DVD make you feel about your country? Do the depictions of war correspond to stories from friends and family in the military? How do you express your sentiments about war? Do you respectfully disagree or try to intimidate and bully?
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