Journey's End

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Journey's End Movie Poster Image
Touching WWI drama focuses on humanity over battles.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 107 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Conveys both the allure and the horrors of war in a humane way. But also, death is inevitable, and everyone suffers.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are brave soldiers who serve their country and show great calm and courage in the face of death. They're more or less trapped, victims of their orders and circumstance, but they do their best. The youngest character is very excited for battle, while the older soldiers are more familiar with what actually happens.


Guns, some shooting. Bombs and explosions. Characters die/dead bodies shown. Minor bloody wounds/gore. A man forcibly tries to kiss a waitress (he's about to head to the front lines) but is stopped. Struggling, fighting. Threatening with gun. Shouting. Dead rats briefly glimpsed.


A character tells a story about picking up "two little tarts." A (possibly nude?) pinup girl hangs on a wall in the background.


Several uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "ass," "damn," "hell," and the English slang "bloody."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the major characters has a drinking problem; he drinks frequently, heavily, and gets falling-down drunk. His story isn't resolved. Other social drinking is shown (wine, whiskey, etc.). Cigarette and pipe smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Journey's End is a WWI-set drama that's based on a 1928 play by R.C. Sherriff. Based more on human concerns than big battle scenes, it's powerfully affecting and a fine examination of both the allures and miseries of war. Expect to see guns and shooting, death, dead bodies, and some bloody wounds, as well as shouting and threatening. A man briefly tries to forcibly kiss a waitress, but he's stopped. There's a brief discussion of a man "picking up two little tarts," and a (possibly nude?) pinup poster hangs on a background wall. Language includes several uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "damn," "ass," and "hell." One character drinks heavily and frequently and gets falling-down drunk. There's other social drinking, too, as well as era-accurate smoking. Asa Butterfield, Sam Claflin, and Paul Bettany co-star.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byInformedFolk December 21, 2018

Watch WITH kids and Discuss.

Journey's End Review.
It is rated r.... it is a war movie....from WW1. NO battle armor.
Mustard Gas
Chlorine gas
Tear Gas
Phosgene Gas.
This movie did not... Continue reading
Adult Written bymajhop01 October 19, 2018

Reality of War

It's a WWI war movie. Watched with my 13 and 15 year old boys. 15 year old really like it. 13 year old thought it was a little slow. Clearly depicts... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byGryfferinblake1917 April 20, 2020

Very very very good and underrated

This is a PG-13 movie. Marvel films are more graphic. It’s very good and has a sense of impending doom that makes it more intense. While it’s depressing and ble... Continue reading

What's the story?

In JOURNEY'S END, World War I is under way, and fresh-faced young Raleigh (Asa Butterfield) has requested to be stationed with his old school head-boy, Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin). Unfortunately, this means that Raleigh is to be deployed for a rotation of six days on the front lines, in the trenches just opposite a nest of German troops. Stanhope drinks heavily, quickly consuming the short supply of whiskey, but his stature in Raleigh's eyes fails to diminish. Rumors of an imminent attack are coming, and the men, led by the pipe-smoking Lt. Osborne (Paul Bettany), wait stoically. Other soldiers include dark-humored cook Mason (Toby Jones) and streetwise teddy bear Trotter (Stephen Graham), who loves to eat. Then their commanding officers order a suicide mission to capture a German; even if the men survive, a major attack may be imminent.

Is it any good?

This drama about the First World War is quietly moving as it conveys the horrors of war without heaviness, focusing on humanity and relying little on battle scenes. R.C. Sherriff's source play was first performed onstage with Laurence Olivier in 1928 and was previously adapted into a movie in 1930, marking the directorial debut of James Whale (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein). It's tried-and-true stuff, and it still works. Director Saul Dibb (The Duchess) stages it with plenty of mud and gloom -- and even wobbly hand-held cameras -- and yet it has enough patience and care that it works beautifully.

Potent little moments, like attempting to clear mud from a whistle, punctuate the story. The cast is especially excellent, starting with Bettany, whose avuncular presence (the men call him "uncle") is downright calming; right before the mission, he coaxes Raleigh to think about other things (hot cocoa and a Lewis Carroll poem). Butterfield is appealingly naïve, and Jones makes a grimly funny cook, providing a commentary on the dishes he manages to put together. Even Claflin -- who usually seems to be cast more for his looks than his presence -- is fine here. Together, the characters manage to discuss things more immediate and personal than war, and, by extension, tell everything there is to say.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Journey's End's violence. How much is shown, and how effective is it? Is it more or less violent than other war movies?

  • Why do you think war might be exciting to young Raleigh? How does his opinion change over the course of the story?

  • How is drinking portrayed? Is Stanhope forgiven for his drinking because of the stress of war? What happens to him -- or what might happen to him?

  • How does the movie show smoking? Why was smoking more prevalent during those times? Does the movie make it look glamorous?

  • What did you learn about the First World War from this movie? Did it inspire you to learn more?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama and history

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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