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Escape from Alcatraz
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Escape from Alcatraz is based on the true story of three inmates who may have been the only ones in the prison's history to successfully escape. There are a couple of fistfights and one gory scene in which a man chops his own fingers off. There's some male nudity from behind, though one man in the shower is very briefly seen from the front from afar. Strong language, including "s--t," is infrequent; the "N" word is used four times. The tone is very quiet and tense. The film is likely to appeal mainly to teens who are curious about the island, the prison, and this incident.
What's the story?
The movie is based on the true story of three convicts who escaped from Alcatraz in the early '60s. To this day no one knows for certain whether they succeeded in making it across the San Francisco Bay to freedom or whether they drowned in the attempt. Through the eyes of Clint Eastwood as Frank Morris, we go inside the walls of the notorious prison, see what the prisoners endured, and learn how they engineered their daring escape.
Is it any good?
ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ is a low-key but suspenseful prison-escape story. The almost-eerie quiet is established right from the start, with an extended opening sequence showing Morris' ferry ride to the island and intake process with only three or four terse spoken lines. That quiet eventually escalates the tension and suspense of watching the escape plans come to fruition to an almost unbearable level, but it also effectively underscores the isolation and desperation that would drive someone to try such a dangerous escape.
No one does quiet-but-tough like Clint Eastwood, and fans will enjoy this mid-career performance. But teens old enough to handle the brief nudity, gore, and strong language may find the slow pace and quiet tone don't hold their interest. Those who are curious about the history of Alcatraz -- maybe they remember the book Al Capone Does My Shirts or Mythbusters episode -- will find a lot of food for thought in this retelling.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about movies based on true stories. Are the characters and events often realistic and believable?
Did you know much about Alcatraz before you saw this movie? Did anything surprise you about it? What else do you know about the island's history, both before and after the prison operated there?
Do you think the characters made it alive? Why, or why not?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.