Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Imprisoned Movie Poster Image
Earnest but uninspired prison drama has violence, language.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 104 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Movie is dedicated to indomitable spirit of the Puerto Rican people and depicts how resilient they are. Also shows how prison system seems to swallow them up, how the whole prison system is seriously flawed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Maria is a positive role model in some ways -- becoming an outspoken activist for prison reform and against the death penalty. But she's also portrayed as someone whose life revolves around that of her husband.


Several men are hung by the neck; image of bloody rope. One failed hanging, as the gallows breaks. Guns and shooting, characters shot/bleeding. Stabbing. Several scenes of fighting and punching. Character hit with blunt object. Man grabs woman in a threatening way. Severe, bloody wounds. Screaming. Explosion. A wife is forced to sleep with a man who's not her husband (not shown).


A married couple kisses, removes each other's clothes, has sex. Thrusting shown, no nudity. Revealing outfit.


Uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "goddamn." Middle-finger gestures.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink beer in a social setting. Smoking, sipping from glasses of whisky. Characters drink from a flask.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Imprisoned is an earnest, mature prison/revenge drama focused on the resilience of the Puerto Rican people. It includes sequences of people being hung by the neck, many scenes of brutal fighting/punching, stabbing, and guns/shooting, with blood spatters. A pregnant woman is shot, and a man grabs a woman in a threatening way. A married couple kisses, removes their clothing, and has sex; some thrusting is shown, but there's no graphic nudity. The wife is forced to have sex with another man; it's not shown. Language includes uses of "f--k," "s--t," "son of a bitch," and more. Characters drink beer socially in bars, sip whisky in offices, and use flasks. Cigarette smoking is shown. This drama has some good performances (particularly by co-star Laurence Fishburne), but it's also rather uninspired.

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What's the story?

In IMPRISONED, Maria (Juana Acosta) is happily married to ex-con Dylan Burke (Juan Pablo Raba); he works hard fishing and even helps employ other ex-cons. But Maria, who's an active voice in prison reform, comes to the attention of new local warden Daniel Calvin (Laurence Fishburne). He makes the connection to Dylan -- and from there to a tragic event that changed both their lives. Calvin begins a hunt to frame Dylan, get him back in prison, and destroy his life. But Maria continues the fight to stop the death penalty, and she won't give up until her husband's life is spared.

Is it any good?

An earnest but uninspired attempt to tell a strong story about the Puerto Rican people, this prison/revenge drama comes across as a serious soap opera, flat and full of overly familiar elements. Imprisoned coasts along at an even keel, using montages to show the passing of time and shaky-cam for tense moments -- and telegraphing each dramatic moment miles in advance. The movie has no surprises except for a few times when it simply defies logic, oblivious to the way things really operate.

Fishburne at least seems to relish his villainous role, finding solid middle ground in which Calvin's treachery springs from a place of righteousness, rather than simple mustache-twisting meanness. And it's hard not to care for Maria and Dylan; they have lots of chemistry and a genuine goodness about them that's hard to resist. A handful of legendary character actors, like Edward James Olmos, Esai Morales, and John Heard, have less to do, but their presence is nonetheless welcome. Overall, Imprisoned isn't so much a bad movie as it is flavorless.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Imprisoned's violence. How did it make you feel? Was it exciting or shocking? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How is sex depicted? What's the difference between the married couple's scenes, and those with the wife and the warden? What values are imparted?

  • How does the movie depict Puerto Rican culture? Does it have positive things to say? Does it deal with the negative things in a meaningful light?

  • Why do you think revenge is so frequently used as a theme/plot device in movies? Does revenge solve everything? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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