A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Maria is a 2019 Filipino action movie in which a former assassin is back on the job to avenge the murders of her husband and daughter. Expect constant and stylized action-movie violence, including fighting with guns, knives, punches, and kicks. Some characters are shown getting tortured, including a scene in which one of the lead antagonists shoves an electric cattle prod up the backside of a tied-up man. Fingernails are pulled out with pliers. A little girl watches as her father is shot in the head; the blood splatters across her face. "F--k" is used several times, along with "motherf----r." Cigarette smoking occurs throughout, and there's some alcohol drinking.
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What's the story?
Lily was a ferocious and unstoppable assassin, working for a drug kingpin with her boyfriend, Kaleb. But when she's faced with killing an innocent mother and child, it's the final straw, so she finds a way to disappear and is presumed dead. In reality, she changed her name to MARIA and got married to a man who works for a politician campaigning to be president. With her husband and daughter, Maria now lives a relatively peaceful existence, but when the presidential candidate denies any past involvement with the drug kingpin, the drug kingpin sends his sons, Kaleb and Victor, to get even. While conducting surveillance, Kaleb discovers that Lily/Maria is still alive. Kaleb and his henchmen invade Maria's house and kill her husband and daughter. Devastated but determined to get revenge, Maria hides out in a back room of a bar owned by Greg, a retired underworld boss who had originally trained Lily/Maria. Now Maria must come to terms with her past and use her assassin skills once more -- this time to avenge her family, kill Kaleb, and also track down Victor and the drug kingpin who was once her boss.
Is it any good?
This is yet another stylized ultraviolent revenge fantasy. There are so many moments of gratuitous violence: violence that doesn't advance the story or develop the characters but simply exists for cheap shock value and to fill the holes left in an uneven storyline. Maria is the kind of movie that really, really, really wants you to understand who the bad guys are, and if they don't seem bad to you at first, or you weren't convinced in their introductory instance of bad behavior, here are two or three more instances of bad guys doing bad things.
As the lead character, Cristine Reyes shows that her acting chops are nearly as good as the many scenes in which she stabs, shoots, kicks, and punches her way through shipyards, bazaars, and rec rooms. That said, it doesn't change the fact that the overall story feels like a rejected screenplay for a Chuck Norris movie that had been languishing in an old Cannon Films file cabinet.
Talk to your kids about ...
Parents can talk about violence in action movies. In what scenes of Maria does the violence seem gratuitous? Where does it seem overly stylized?
How are women represented in this movie? Historically, how have women often been represented in action movies?
What are some other examples of movies in which lead characters get revenge on the bad guys? Why do you think these types of movies have popular appeal?
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