By Brian Costello,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Depressing prison drama is violent, with cursing and slurs.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No real positive messages in depressing prison action drama.
Positive Role Models
One of the characters, the cellmate of the lead character, puts his religious faith into practice by displaying love of one's enemies and charity, and ends up the most fortunate by the end of the movie. Some stereotyping.
Violence & Scariness
Attempted suicide by hanging. Characters shot and killed. Character dies in a car accident after tire is slashed while he's driving next to a steep cliff. Assault rifle fire. Explosions. Inmate pulls a knife on another inmate, presses it into his neck, drawing blood. Character shown getting burned alive after stepping into a trap that causes a Molotov cocktail to fall on him. A sadistic prison guard verbally abuses and physically bullies inmates. An inmate shows his cellmate scars of attempted suicide on his wrists.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief male nonsexual nudity (buttocks). Boyfriend and girlfriend shown about to have sex for the first time (no nudity). Lead character makes a joke about a girlfriend's breast size.
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Frequent profanity, including "f--k" and "motherf----r." Racist slurs against African Americans, Latinos, Arabs by leader of White prisoners and a prison guard. Antisemitic sentiment. Homophobic slurs used. Three police officers in an unnamed Arab country harass an Arab American woman and her White American boyfriend: They call her a "slut," "whore," and "bitch" and accuse the man of being "a f--king rapist." Also "bulls--t," "s--t," "p---y," "pr--k," "pisses," "t-ts," "ass."
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Products & Purchases
Reference made to Bacardi 151.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Inmate deals pain pills, sells some to one of the prison guards. Cigarette smoking. Wine and alcohol drinking in a bar.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Night Walk is a 2019 drama in which a man falsely accused of killing his girlfriend in an Arab country plots revenge on the crooked judge who imprisoned him in America. There is frequent profanity throughout the movie, including "f--k" and "motherf----r," as well as scenes in which a bullying prison guard and an inmate who leads the White gang in the prison (played by Mickey Rourke) use racial, ethnic, and homophobic slurs. During an altercation with three police officers in an unnamed Arab country, the lead character is accused by them of being "a f--king rapist," and they call his Arab American girlfriend a "slut," "whore," and "bitch." There is also some violence, including characters getting shot and killed, an attempted suicide by hanging, a man nearly burned alive, and the lead character getting a knife pulled on him by another inmate; the knife is pressed against his neck, drawing blood. Another character dies when his car is forced off the road and drives off a cliff. There's some fighting with punches, brief nonsexual nudity (male buttocks), wine and alcohol drinking in a bar, and cigarette smoking. The leader of the White gang in the prison sells pain pills to one of the guards. The lead character and his girlfriend are shown on the verge of having sex.
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Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
In NIGHT WALK, Frank (Sean Stone) is a single and free-spirited womanizer, until he meets Sarah, a relatively conservative Arab woman. The two hit it off immediately, and begin to fall in love over time. Eventually, the two decide to fly to meet Sarah's parents in her home country, where Frank plans to propose marriage. When they get there, they go for a walk one night, where they are accosted by three corrupt police officers who harass them. Frank and Sarah try to outrun them, but one of the officers opens fire and kills Sarah. This officer then frames Frank for the murder, and he's found guilty. An American judge agrees and sends him to a California penitentiary. Frank is now in a prison with other inmates, some of whom are deemed "terrorists" from other countries. While trying to navigate the violence and racial segregation of prison life, Frank reaches out to his friend Bobby, an investigative journalist, and tells him that not only is he being falsely imprisoned for Sarah's murder, but he also suspects that Judge Wilson (Eric Roberts), the judge who tried the case, has something to do with it. After looking into it, Bobby confirms Frank's suspicions, but is killed under mysterious circumstances before getting a chance to write an exposé. Now seemingly without options, Frank begins to find a sense of belonging with the Muslims in prison, including his religion-centered cellmate. But Frank is determined to get revenge on Judge Wilson for all the harm that he has caused, and when the opportunity arises, Frank must find a way to prove that Judge Wilson is guilty and corrupt, no matter the cost.
Is It Any Good?
This is a depressing prison drama in which any potential positive messages are drowned out by the violence and cruelty. In Night Walk, a man wrongly imprisoned for his girlfriend's murder in an Arab country is sent to a California penitentiary, avoids the overtures of the racist leader of the White inmates (played by Mickey Rourke), and converts to the Muslim faith while inspired by the spiritually centered life of his cellmate -- but he also wants to use the Muslims' connections to the outside world to get revenge on the corrupt judge (played by Eric Roberts) who found Frank guilty of the murder of his girlfriend and who also was behind the killing of one of Frank's best friends, an investigative journalist hot on the trail of the judge's corruption. If the story sounds a bit unwieldy and overly complicated, that's because it is, and that doesn't even include the backstory of the bullying and vicious prison guard, among two or three other story threads piled on top of the main story.
The movie is marred by clunky storytelling, by acting that runs the gamut from very good to just plain awful, with not a lot in between, and by dialogue that is sometimes unintentionally hilarious. However, the brief humor of weak dialogue like "Oh my god! Call an ambulance!" after a man has been shot with an assault rifle less than five feet from the character half-heartedly bellowing this line doesn't overcome what is ultimately a gloomy story. There's only one faint glimmer of hope and redemption at the end, but it doesn't overcome the movie's structural shortcomings, uneven acting, and constant cruelty. It's unfortunate, because there does seem to be a positive message somewhere in Night Walk, but it doesn't really have a chance to emerge from the bleak shadow cast by prison life, injustice, and misfortune.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Arab culture and the Muslim religion are conveyed in Night Walk. Does the movie stereotype Arabs and Muslims, or does the movie present a more thoughtful depiction?
Did the racial, ethnic, and homophobic slurs seem necessary to convey a sense of the reality of prison life, or did it seem like it was put in for shock value?
Was the violence and bullying necessary to the story, or did it seem gratuitous? Why?
- In theaters: April 10, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: June 15, 2021
- Cast: Sean Stone, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts
- Director: Aziz Tazi
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Language throughout including derogatory slurs, violence and sexual references.
- Last updated: March 19, 2023
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