Dark Web: Cicada 3301
Language, drug use, violence in solid action-comedy.
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Dark Web: Cicada 3301
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dark Web: Cicada 3301 is a dark action comedy in which a pair of hackers find themselves competing in a complex game they must play in order to infiltrate a secret society. There's constant profanity throughout, including "f--k" and "motherf---er." Some strong sexual content, including brief scenes of attempted masturbation in front of a library computer, oral sex, bared breasts, and a man getting whipped while on all-fours. Undercover NSA agent shown with a sex toy wrapped around his forehead. At a lavish masquerade party, shots of characters snorting cocaine, and a woman ingesting a pill. Alcohol drinking, cigarette smoking. Man shown shot in the forehead at close range, the bullet going through his forehead; some blood. Gun violence. Lead character gets into a fight where he tends bar, beating up a rude customer. Fighting with punches, kicks, thick books, a taser gun.
Story fizzles to nothing
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What's the Story?
In DARK WEB; CICADA 3301, Connor Black is a bartender with the gift of a photographic memory. He uses that gift to get even with the rude customers who cause trouble in his bar. One night, after going into the dark web and using his memory skills to steal the identity and finances of a particularly rude customer, he receives an invite to join Cicada 3301, a mysterious and top-secret society. To join this group, he must complete a series of elaborate tasks and crack a series of codes, but before he really gets started, he's grabbed by a bumbling pair of NSA Agents who want him to move forward with his quest to infiltrate Cicada 3301 and help them find out who is behind it. Soon, Connor joins forces with a librarian named Gwen, who has also been invited to compete. Together with Connor's best friend Avi (Ron Funches), a gifted if skittish art history professor, they solve each high-tech and high-stakes riddle, and soon receive an invite to a masquerade party in London. After witnessing first-hand the havoc that Cicada 3301 wreaks on society, Connor is determined to discover those who are behind this, and stop them once and for all.
Is It Any Good?
This is an action-comedy that somehow manages to be engaging despite all the cliches. Dark Web: Cicada 3301 is a movie replete with fast-talking, street-smart, cynical, foul-mouthed characters, secret societies with some strong opinions about society and civilization, and brain-teasing riddles that involve, say, William Blake or Van Gogh. Some of it works, and some of it doesn't, but on the whole, there's enough to the story to keep it interesting for the entire movie. This is less due to the comedy, which doesn't really work, and more due to the raised stakes in each new scene. The mystery of it all and where it's leading outweighs the fun one might have in naming the different movies this movie seems to be borrowing from in one degree or another.
The acting is solid, even if the dialogue is inconsistent and sometimes resorts to the cliches of the cynical urban action character. It surprises no one when the lead character, the cash-strapped Connor, asks to borrow money from his best friend, the successful art history professor Avi, and Avi pretends to reach into his sport coat pocket to retrieve some cash and pulls out, wouldn't you just know it, a middle finger. And even with scenes of decadence during a masquerade ball that leads one to expect Tom Cruise to show up at any time with the "Fidelio" password, there's enough going on to hold interest and see how this whole thing ends. It's not the best movie, but it's enjoyable enough for a lazy weekend afternoon.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the use of language in Dark Web: Cicada 3301. Did it provide a sense of realism and/or humor to the characters, or did it seem gratuitous? How much is too much?
Did the sex and violence seem necessary to the story, or did these elements seem gratuitous? Why?
How does this compare to other action/thriller-comedies with fast-talking characters who get in way over their heads?
- On DVD or streaming: March 12, 2021
- Cast: Jack Kesy, Conor Leslie, Ron Funches
- Director: Alan Ritchson
- Studio: Grindstone Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive language, strong sexual content, some violence, drug use and nudity
- Last updated: October 8, 2022
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