Good People

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Good People Movie Poster Image
Jumbled, violent thriller about greed and consequences.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The movie asks a big question about doing the right thing -- i.e. whether or not characters should keep money that may belong to bad people. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't make much of an argument for doing the right thing and turning it in. The characters get roughed up a bit, but they survive and are rewarded for their initial bad decision.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main characters, the "good people" of the title, make a poor decision and then spend the rest of the film trying to survive. There are consequences, but nothing that can't be overcome. They're even rewarded. Another "good guy" character, a police detective, is motivated by revenge.

Violence

Violent shootings and killings, with lots of blood, including some blood sprays and splatters. Dead bodies are shown. A man falls onto a pile of wooden spikes, a man gets shot by a nail gun in the head, and another man gets nails in his feet. A woman is slapped and treated roughly. A man is stabbed with a knife. A car crashes into a man. A man is tortured with a pool ball and pool cue. Characters fight with a crowbar. Characters shout and threaten one another.

Sex

The main characters are trying to have a baby, though they're interrupted before having sex. They kiss, and in one scene they shower together. An opaque shower curtain covers the sensitive bits, but a moment later, the woman steps out of the shower, and her naked bottom is shown. A bad guy rubs the female lead's crotch area while she's wearing jeans. In a shot filmed from far away, a woman runs out of a nightclub covering her breasts with her hands. Also some brief innuendo and discussions around pregnancy.

Language

Language is very strong, with several uses of "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "twat," and "prick."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The bad guys are drug dealers, handling a product called "Liquid O," or heroin. Viewers see a case full of little vials. A character dies, off screen, of a drug overdose. A bad guy smokes a cigarette in one scene.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Good People is a thriller about an average couple who make a bad decision involving money and subsequently become involved with gangsters. There's strong violence, with lots of fighting, shooting, and killing, plus splattering and spraying blood. Some of the fighting involves nail guns, crowbars, etc. Language is also quite salty, with many uses of "f--k," as well as "s--t" and "p---y." The plot involves drug dealers, a case of "Liquid O" (heroin) is shown, and a man dies (off screen) of a drug overdose. The main characters are trying to get pregnant, which is discussed, though there's no on-screen sex. They do take a shower together, but an opaque curtain covers the sensitive parts ... until the woman's bottom is shown. It's fairly mediocre and forgettable, and unless teens are out to see every James Franco or Kate Hudson movie, they probably won't bother.

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What's the story?

American couple Tom (James Franco) and Anna Wright (Kate Hudson) live in England, where they're trying to fix up an old house but are instead falling into debt. When their downstairs tenant mysteriously dies of an overdose, the couple finds a hidden satchel full of cash, and they decide to keep it. Police detective John Halden (Tom Wilkinson) starts snooping around, and Tom gets a call from a dangerous gangster (Omar Sy), who suspects that he has the money. When thugs show up at their place and threaten them, Tom and Anna realize that they must come up with a plan to save their necks. But how can a normal couple fight an army of brutal bad guys?

Is it any good?

GOOD PEOPLE comes from good stock. Director Henrik Ruben Genz is an Oscar nominee for Best Live Action Short and also made the very good crime film Terribly Happy (2008). Screenwriter Kelly Masterson -- who adapted Marcus Sakey's novel -- previously wrote Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and Snowpiercer. Even the cast includes some very talented, Oscar-nominated people. But the finished movie feels like a half-hearted jumble, full of lazy shortcuts.

The main characters don't generate much sympathy, since they rush too quickly into trouble. The bad guys, on the other hand, never seem to be in sync; why would the big boss himself show up at the big showdown, gun in hand? At other times, no one really seems to be in charge or have any idea what's going on. Wilkinson comes out the best, since his character has a motivation, although that's about all he has. Good People falters even more when compared to the similar A Simple Plan, a much sharper, smarter, and more emotional movie.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Good People's violence. How did it affect you? Would the movie have been as exciting/thrilling with less violence and blood?

  • Why did the characters choose to keep the money? What would have happened if they had decided to turn it in? Do you think the consequences of their decision are realistic?

  • Does the real-life economic situation of the mid-2010s enter into this film's plot? Why are the characters struggling so much to get by?

  • How powerful is the female lead in this movie? Does she take charge? Does she make things happen?

  • Do you agree with the police detective's personal motivation to avenge the death of his daughter? Is that a worthy cause?

Movie details

For kids who love thrills

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