A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Legacy of Lies is a 2020 action movie in which Scott Adkins plays a former MI6 agent who gets pulled back into his old life to help retrieve files stolen by the Russians. Frequent action movie violence throughout includes a terrorist attack inside a dance club, sniper killings, a torture interrogation, car chases, and an MMA fight. In a gratuitous sex scene, a woman straddles the lead character while he's seated on a chair in his bedroom before they both fall into bed; brief nudity is seen (breasts). Viewers will also see cigarette and cigar smoking and drinking in a bar, and profanity, including "f--k," is used frequently. Near the end, one of the characters (an investigative journalist) makes a powerful statement about the importance of free speech and objective truth during a time when both are under attack; this scene is particularly relevant because the movie was made in Ukraine.
What's the story?
In LEGACY OF LIES, Martin Baxter (Scott Adkins) is a former MI6 agent still traumatized by witnessing the murder of his wife 12 years ago during a botched mission in Kyiv. These days, he's trying to keep a low profile in London, making ends meet as a hot-tempered bouncer and a losing MMA fighter to support himself and his daughter. His attempt to live under the radar is soon shattered. First, he's found by Sacha, the daughter of a man Baxter worked with in Kyiv, who has followed in her late father's footsteps as an investigative journalist. She beseeches him to help track down the files that cost the lives of her father and Baxter's wife. Later, inside his crumbling apartment, he finds Trevor, his former boss, sitting in the kitchen. Then the KGB kidnaps Baxter's daughter and gives him 24 hours to stop Sacha and retrieve the missing files. Facing off against U.K. and Russian intelligence, Baxter must find a way to retrieve the files, rescue his daughter, evade his enemies, and make peace with his past.
Is it any good?
This is a decent action movie, and while the plot twists and conflicts can be disorienting at times, the central storyline is enough to justify the explosions and carnage. Legacy of Lies makes effective use of shopworn action movie tropes such as the "You have 24 hours to [do the thing] before we [kill the loved one/destroy the world]" character motivator. While the characters all play types, there's a concerted effort to give some depth to some of the secondary characters so that, for instance, the "evil Russian" character isn't simply a variation on Natasha Badonov from the cartoons. These moments are effectively blended into the script and in no way drag down the constant suspense and tension.
The action sequences are detailed and of a higher quality than many action movies. The recurrence of the lead character's wife appearing as a zombiesque adviser is a creative touch. Near the end, the movie takes an incredibly interesting and unexpected twist when, like something akin to the final moments of Chaplin's The Great Dictator, one of the characters, while being interviewed on a news program, talks to the camera about the necessity of free speech and objective truth in order to preserve our ever fragile democracies and fight back against autocrats everywhere. It's not as heavy-handed as it may seem, and the message is all the more relevant because the movie was produced in Ukraine at a time when it must contend with forces of violence and disinformation from Russia.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about action movies. How does Legacy of Lies compare to other action movies you've seen?
Consider the investigative reporter's message about free speech and objective truth near the conclusion of the movie. As a movie produced in Ukraine, why does this message seem particularly relevant for that country?
Did the violence in the movie seem necessary to the story, or was it gratuitous? What about the sex scene?
- On DVD or streaming: July 28, 2020
- Cast: Scott Adkins, Honor Kneafsey, Andrea Vasiliou
- Director: Adrian Bol
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Violence, language and some sexuality/nudity.
- Last updated: September 11, 2020
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