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 revenge drama/thriller isn't for kids in any way. Following the transformation of an orderly, mild-mannered insurance executive into a brutal killer, the film is basically a series of violent acts, each one payback for the one that preceded it. Bloody violence includes shooting, stabbing, fighting, and car chases and crashes. In one scene, a young man enters a motel room with a prostitute hired by his brother (but nothing explicit is shown). There are references to drug trade and use, as well as some smoking and drinking and lots of language, particularly "f--k."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
When his son is randomly killed by gang members and the D.A. can't convict the culprits, insurance exec Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon) turns vigilante. Killing the shooter only makes things worse, and Nick's action leads to more revenge attacks, each bloodier than the one before. Inevitably, the violence affects Nick's wife, Helen (Kelly Preston), and his younger, traumatized son (Jordan Garrett). Nick hones his attack skills, receiving little help from local cops. Though Detective Wallis (Aisha Tyler) means well, but she can't control or support Nick's increasingly uncontrollable and violent assaults.
Is it any good?
Scripted by Death Wish writer Brian Garfield,James Wan's movie is smart enough about its generic limits: The violence is ragingly B, and the cops always steps behind. While the film resembles Taxi Driver, this "new" vigilante movie offers a different anti-hero. Here it's not the loner or the outsider who seeks redress by insane means, it's the family man, the guy who loses hope in the very system he's always trusted.
When Nick meets another father, a gun salesman named Bones (John Goodman), he's briefly appalled by the man's complete rejection of a monstrous son. But by this time Nick's own morality is so skewed and incoherent that he only nods at his new friend, eyes hard and jaw jutting, the low angle making you wonder which dad is the baddest.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's messages about both family and revenge. How does vengeance become a way of showing loyalty in this movie? Does the movie support or argue against that idea? How? Do you think any of the violence is justified? Why or why not? Is violence ever the right response to a wrong done against someone? Why do we see so much of that in the movies?
- In theaters: August 31, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: January 8, 2008
- Cast: Garrett Hedlun, Kelly Preston, Kevin Bacon
- Director: James Wan
- Studio: Fox Atomic
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody brutal violence and pervasive language.
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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