Misconduct

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Misconduct Movie Poster Image
Terrible thriller wastes great actors in a ridiculous story.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 106 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The truth can be complicated, and couples shouldn't lie to or cheat on each other. Also, apparently, rich folks can easily get out of trouble.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No one is really worth emulating, although Ben stops short of fully cheating on his wife, and he attempts to bring the perpetrator of a crime to justice. But he also does a bunch of shady things. Doug tries to encourage Ben to do the right thing and stay away from his toxic ex-girlfriend. 

Violence

People are shot at point-blank range. Others die under mysterious circumstances. A man punches another man. A woman is beaten. A corporate assassin threatens and injures people. He nearly runs over a woman on his motorcycle and seriously hurts her. Someone makes a woman in critical condition at the hospital "code" and die.

Sex

Brief, silhouetted nudity when a man nearly commits adultery with an ex-girlfriend. They kiss passionately, he spanks her, and she undresses. In addition to seeing her in a bra, in the next scene, her breasts are visible in shadow/dark light. 

Language

Frequent strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "bitch," etc.

Consumerism

Dell, Apple.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink at home (occasionally to excess) and in restaurants and clubs. Characters smoke cigarettes. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Misconduct is a crime thriller/legal drama starring Josh Duhamel as an ambitious young attorney whose ex-girlfriend approaches him with whistle-blowing news about a pharmaceutical corporation's billionaire CEO. The twist-filled movie features quite a bit of violence, much of it against female characters, who are beaten, chased, shot, and killed (male characters are, too). There's also a lot of strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," etc.) and sexual situations that stop just short of actual sex -- including a woman's naked breasts (seen in shadow/dark light). Despite the star-studded cast (Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins co-star), the dark thriller is unlikely to appeal to most teens.

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What's the story?

MISCONDUCT is a legal thriller starring Josh Duhamel as Ben, an ambitious associate at a prestigious law firm who's working extra hours while his marriage to Charlotte (Alice Eve) slowly crumbles under the weight of a personal tragedy. Told in a non-linear fashion, the movie opens with the kidnapping of pharmaceutical company CEO Arthur Denning's (Anthony Hopkins) former employee/current trophy girlfriend, Emily (Malin Akerman). Her kidnappers demand a ransom, but Arthur doesn't want to play ball until he's sure she's still alive. In flashbacks, it's revealed that Emily had blown the whistle to her ex-boyfriend, Ben, about a drug study that killed many participants but that Denning covered up in order to push the drug through the approval process. Excited about the prospect of a career-making case, Ben convinces his senior partner, Abrams (Al Pacino), to let him bring a lawsuit against Denning's company. But as the story unfolds, people turn up dead, and others are constantly threatened. It becomes increasingly clear that Ben is in over his head and that Emily may have had ulterior motives for confiding in Ben.

Is it any good?

Meandering, derivative, and full of predictable twists, this legal thriller is a waste of the considerable talents of Hopkins and Pacino, who work together on screen here for the first time. At first, the movie shows some promise with its admittedly unoriginal but still compelling plot device of a high-powered master of the universe having his significant other kidnapped for a hefty ransom. But that whodunit is overwhelmed by the connected storyline of Ben using Emily's out-of-the-blue reveal to his advantage to bring a case against a big pharma boss. And then as twists and turns sidetrack more than they reveal, the legal aspect of the drama completely fizzles, without any actual courtrroom theatrics.

Sitting through this meandering mess, you start to wonder what new house, yacht, or project legendary actors like Pacino and Hopkins needed to fund with their acting fees. First time director Shintaro Shimosawa has had a modestly successful career writing and producing, but directing doesn't seem to be his forte, and Simon Boyes and Adam Mason's clunky script did him no favors. There's little to redeem Misconduct, and seeing two of arguably the greatest actors alive play flat secondary characters -- both of whom are old, immoral rich men -- is simply cringe-inducing. Let's hope the next time Pacino and Hopkins share screen time, it's in a project that deserves their talent.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Misconduct. Is it realistic? How does it compare to what you might see in an action movie? Which has greater impact, and why?

  • Which of these characters (if any) did you end up rooting for? Are any of them role models?

  • Discuss the way women are portrayed in the movie. Is it realistic? Why do you think so many movies are male dominated?

Movie details

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