A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
Positive role models & representations
Drinking, drugs & smoking
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Killing Season is a dark, mature thriller with war overtones that stars John Travolta and Robert De Niro. The main thrust is revenge, with various gruesome scenes of torture (often with blood/agony). Viewers also see some brutal, disturbing flashbacks to the Bosnian War. Language is fairly strong, with a few, pointed uses of "f--k" and "s--t." The characters tell a joke with some strong sexual innuendo. A bottle of Jagermeister liquor is studied, admired, and consumed, and the characters get drunk.
This very disturbing and graphic revenge thriller starts off with a man named Benjamin Ford, who survived a tour of the Bosnian war. He has retreated to cabin i... Continue reading
What's the story?
Benjamin Ford (Robert De Niro) survived a tour of the Bosnian War but has retreated to a cabin deep in the woods, living a simple existence, photographing animals, reading Hemingway, and going to bed early. Meanwhile, a Serb, Emil Kovac (John Travolta) -- who encountered Benjamin during the war -- has spent years looking for him and finally finds him. At first he seems friendly enough, sharing his Jagermeister and talking the night away. But the next morning, he's planned a deadly hunt with bows, arrows, and Benjamin as his prey. Fortunately, Benjamin isn't an easy quarry to catch, and soon each man is using every skill at his disposal to survive and defeat the other.
Is it any good?
To sum it up in one word, this movie just feels wrong. Director Mark Steven Johnson has so far made bad comedies (When in Rome), bad superhero movies (Daredevil and Ghost Rider), and a sentimental weepie (Simon Birch), and in KILLING SEASON he attempts a dramatic thriller with serious overtones of war and genocide. The main problem is that he doesn't seem to know how to mix ghoulish, superficial torture sequences with horrific war flashbacks.
Oddly, the movie's best part comes when the two stars, Travolta and De Niro, are simply talking, before the hunt begins. Travolta, especially, is weirdly captivating with his thick Serbian accent and an odd, Abraham Lincoln-like beard. Both Travolta and De Niro have played psychopaths before, and they both know how to play this game; their relationship is believable. It's too bad their talent is so wasted in this puzzling, unpleasant movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Families can talk about Killing Season's violence. Which parts were supposed to be thrilling, and which parts were supposed to be disturbing? Can the two goals co-exist? How does what you see here compare to horror movies?
- Does revenge solve anything or lead to anything good? Do these characters get their revenge? What happens to them?
- Why does Robert De Niro's character avoid his family? What would happen if he confided in them?
- In theaters: July 12, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: August 20, 2013
- Cast: John Travolta, Milo Ventimiglia, Robert De Niro
- Director: Mark Steven Johnson
- Studio: Millennium Films
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, some torture, and language including some sexual references
For kids who love thrills
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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.