Exit Plan

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Exit Plan Movie Poster Image
Sedate mystery romanticizes suicide; gun violence.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Life is worth the fight.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While some decisions are made in consideration of others, there are no obviously positive role models or representations. 

Violence

Assisted suicide depicted as "honest and beautiful ending" to pain and anguish. Several suicide attempts. Death by a gun. A couple of instances where something gross happens with body parts. Character diagnosed with terminal illness.

Sex

A couple is affectionate with one another: caressing touches, snuggling in bed, a kiss. Women seen in bra and/or underwear. During a moment of delusion, there's a sexual vibe around people lying in a room together, but nothing is actually happening.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A character is served tea laced with opium and has upsetting hallucinations as a result. A couple drinks wine at a celebratory dinner. A character voluntarily takes a pill that will knock him out; he washes it down with a swig of vodka.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Exit Plan is an anti-suicide movie that still ends up somewhat promoting the idea of ending one's life prematurely. The mostly subtitled Danish mystery stars Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. His character, Max, is diagnosed with a terminal illness; as he's digesting the news, he investigates a life insurance claim that leads him to a peaceful assisted-suicide resort. The staff gives a persuasive sales speech from the point of view that choosing a "death plan" is an empowered and, in some cases, compassionate choice for loved ones. The hotel's client who most embraces this thinking is a young man with depression. Ultimately, the film doesn't endorse suicide, but some characters' convincing phrases may stick in the minds of vulnerable viewers. Several failed suicide attempts are shown, and there's a death via gun. At one point, Max drinks tea laced with opium. In his hallucination, there's a glimpse of a man with two women that implies a threesome, but it actually doesn't show anything sexual. In another scene, a couple is affectionate with one another, kissing and snuggling in bed.

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What's the story?

In EXIT PLAN, Max (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is investigating a life insurance claim in which a woman says her husband is dead -- but there's no body or evidence. The trail leads Max to the mysterious Hotel Aurora at the same time that he's contending with his own personal health crisis.

Is it any good?

The rise of suicide tourism is a ripe subject for a debate-goading film, and writer Rasmus Birch's enigmatic approach provides material that will last for days. But the approach to the subject matter seems very iffy for teens, a population that's seen an alarming and significant spike in suicides in recent years. In establishing the allure of an assisted suicide facility, arguments that support electing to end your life are presented as alarmingly rational -- including the idea that a pill or injection can allow someone to finish their "journey" with an "honest and beautiful ending."

Aside from the chilling worries about unintended consequences, Birch and director Jonas Alexander Arnby's film is like a less interesting Memento or Inception, a mystery in which the audience is trying to figure out what the protagonist is learning through the roadblocks of false realities. Presented in flashbacks and altered realities, it's confusing. It's also quiet and tortoisely slow, and the ending isn't firm -- it's up to viewers to decide. That's going to turn off most teens, but if they're on board to sit through the slow parts, the movie's surrealist approach and beautiful production design (Arnby started his film career in the art department) make for an active brain experience: a guessing game that forces audiences to confront their own opinions about life and death.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the debate around assisted suicide and "suicide tourism." Does the film take a position on whether it's right or wrong?

  • Max is stoic: He doesn't show his emotions or have much to say, which makes him a challenging character for cinema. How do the filmmakers work to make a man who'd likely be described as "boring" into one who's compelling to watch?

  • How is watching films produced in cultures other than our own beneficial to cultural growth and understanding? 

Movie details

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