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Disturbing the Peace

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Disturbing the Peace Movie Poster Image
Profane shoot-'em-up cops-and-robbers flick is very pro-gun.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 91 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Strong pro-gun messaging in this straightforward good vs. evil story. Also, crime doesn't pay. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Amanda is the glue who holds the town together: She's kind, tough, brave, knows when to be a follower and when to be a leader, and can defend herself and others. Her attractiveness and quiet demeanor lead adversaries to underestimate her. On the other hand, there's little diversity and some broad stereotyping (i.e. the one Hispanic character speaks with a Mexican accent and carries a pistol in each hand).

Violence

Graphic deaths in this guns-blazing story. Several people are shot point blank or at close range, with lots of blood splatter. Explosions cause bodies to fly; some die as a result. Fistfights accentuated with guns and knives are frequent. Guns are an integral part of the storyline. A shovel and a glass are used as weapons.

Sex

Women wear snug crop tops and tight pants. No cleavage; skin exposure is limited to bellies. A couple in a relationship shares a passionate kiss.

Language

Strong language includes regular use of "f--k." Also "bitch" and "s--t."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking is portrayed negatively: after receiving terrible news, the marshall has a drink at the bar while off-duty, and a local official takes issue with it; he takes some aspirin the next morning. A menacing character causes trouble when he's refused a drink at a restaurant. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Disturbing the Peace is a modern-day action Western starring Guy Pearce and former WWE wrestler Barbie Blank. It's an unabashedly pro-gun story about Marshall Jim Dillon (Pearce), a law enforcement officer who disavows gun use after a tragedy but reunites with his trusty weapon to save the day against some cartoonish villains. Blood and brains splatter throughout from an arsenal of handguns and military assault rifles; there are also deadly explosions, fistfights, and use of other objects (a shovel, a glass) as weapons. The villains swear, and their favorite word is "f--k." While it's definitely got that old-fashioned "when men were men" kind of feel (Dillon is like a less interesting John McClain), it does have some modern day updates, including a tough love interest. Blank's character, Amanda, is a fearless fighter who doesn't need rescuing. In fact, both Dillon and Amanda are sharp and capable, and they use real teamwork to try to save the town. 

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What's the story?

In DISTURBING THE PEACE, U.S. Marshall Jim Dillon (Guy Pearce) refuses to carry a gun after a tragic shooting resulted in his partner's death. But when a biker gang takes over small-town Horse Cave with the intent to rob the bank and kill anyone in their way, Dillon must pick up his weapon again and fight back.

Is it any good?

In many ways, this is a paint-by-numbers version of every testosterone-fueled flick made for men of a certain age -- although it surprises by upending a few cliches. The name of the movie's town -- Horse Cave -- pretty much tells you how everything is going to go down in Disturbing the Peace. This is a take on small-town America where order is kept under the eye of an unflinchingly masculine U.S. Marshall (who's a former Texas Ranger to boot). The townspeople gather in the local diner, run by the preacher's daughter, and talk about the morning's sermon while the American flag waves proudly. When a biker gang rolls in with a bank to rob and a score to settle, the meek, nerdy mayor cowers while the law steps up to save the day. The origins of the leader's vendetta go back to his childhood, when his coal miner father's job disappeared and he turned to the bottle. 

And those are just the cliches; there's also some flat-out ridiculous stuff here. A gang leader wears a 3/4-sleeve thermal shirt under his black leather vest, and the women wear half-shirts and tight pants. No one's Southern accent matches anyone else's. The one Hispanic character speaks with a Mexican accent and carries a pistol in each hand, pointing in opposite directions at all times. The gunplay is over the top, as is the male swagger. Pearce's acting shows he's put in the 10,000 hours ... and the performances of the rest of the cast shows that they have not. The script isn't sophisticated, and it's hard not to notice that the town seems to only have 15 residents. That said, we can give a few nods to being aware of the times. While Disturbing the Peace doesn't have many characters of color, the one Black man is a sweet security guard, rather than a menacing criminal. And while no one will accuse Blank of great acting, her Amanda is the film's delightful surprise. She's quiet but will pull out a can of whoop-it when the situation arises -- and when she does, no one in the town is surprised, nor does it affect her appeal. It's clear she's been a protector of the town longer than Dillon has. Progress comes in small doses of evolution -- and dressing it in highly-choreographed moves in a MAGA fantasy film only makes it more effective.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different genres that Disturbing the Peace mashes up. In what ways does it follow the hallmarks of those types of films? In what ways does it diverge?

  • Discuss the film's ending. Do you agree with how Dillon ultimately dealt with Diablo? Why do you think films typically don't have that kind of resolution? Is there a danger in it?

  • What role does violence play in the story? How does the impact of this kind of violence compare to what you've seen in other movies? 

  • How is Amanda's character unique to these kinds of stories? As over the top as the film is, how can this type of representation change society? How do she and Dillon demonstrate teamwork?

  • What do you think the filmmakers want you to take away from watching?

Movie details

For kids who love action

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