A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film shows some of the darker impulses of humans in seeking power or the destruction of others. It questions the legitimacy of third-party military involvement in international conflicts, and it takes aim at the inhumanity and detachment of drone strikes. Humans may be emotional, lazy, and prone to errors, but they can also learn from their mistakes and make selfless acts.
Positive Role Models
Precise, efficient, and smart, drone operator Harp learns the lessons the military ethics committee intends for him after he disobeys orders, resulting in military casualties. He becomes a lone hero, putting his own life at risk to save untold others and showing courage and intelligence in outwitting an android soldier gone AWOL. He also earns the respect of skeptical superiors. Other soldiers and fighters are often shown to have selfish or misguided motivations and destructive impulses, including android Leo. Harp and Leo are both Black, while the insurgents and resistance fighters are all Eastern European.
Violence & Scariness
Urban battle scenes include all manner of shoot-outs, with people -- civilians and soldiers -- killed at short- and long-range and in bloody detail. Individuals are exploded, stabbed, shot, strangled, beaten, dropped from great heights, and harpooned. The two main characters both kill people. Standoff scenes include hostages. Mass graves with multiple dead bodies are seen in pictures and live. People scream and writhe in pain before they die.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Leo teases Harp about his "hottie" fiancée, suggesting she might be unfaithful, letting another man "put the beef in her taco," or "playing both sides" with another woman.
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A lot of swearing in various contexts, including versions of "f--k," "s--t," and "damn." Also, "Jesus Christ," "son of a bitch," "a--holes," "hell," "butt," "balls."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that while Outside the Wire has some philosophical messages about war, you have to wade through a lot of violence to get to them. Battle scenes include shoot-outs, killings at short- and long-range, explosions, beatings, and stabbings (by both robots and soldiers). Some of the violence feels more like a video game, but other scenes involve people writhing in pain, rivals getting in tense stand-offs, or the discovery of mass-murdered dead bodies. The film also has frequent swearing in various contexts and includes "f--k," "s--t," "damn," "Jesus Christ," "son of a bitch," "a--holes," "hell," "butt," and "balls." A couple of derogatory comments about a man's fiancée being unfaithful to him is the extent of sexual content. The main character undergoes a transformation from efficient-but-unemotional soldier to heroic-and-selfless warrior. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Outside the Wire is a fast-paced and suspenseful futuristic war film with solid acting and a clear ambition to raise provocative questions about the United States' role in the world. It's also very violent and often prioritizes action over character or story. Mackie and Idris are both compelling as two conflicted anti-heroes on an unclear mission together. The third key character of Captain Eckhart, played by House of Cards' Michael Kelly, gains prominence in the last act of the film without enough development earlier on.
Directed by a Swede and set in an imagined future civil war involving Ukraine and Russia, the film takes aim at the US military's never-ending wars, its detached drone attacks, and its parallel vision of itself as a force for peace. Having witnessed untold atrocities, namely civilian casualties coldly dubbed "collateral," the android (spoiler alert) aims to destroy humankind in order to save it from its own, well, inhumanity. The idea of a man-made android with feelings and a reactive human personality is interesting, so long as you don't dig too deep into the actual mechanics of it.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.