Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Pilgrimage Movie Poster Image
Grim, serious tale with little excitement, tons of violence.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 96 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive messages

The only real takeaways here are the inevitability of violence and the intolerance of religion.

Positive role models & representations

Brother Diarmuid remains mostly uncorrupted and pure of heart throughout, though whether he's a role model is up for debate.


Extremely gruesome medieval battles. A man is bludgeoned to death with stones; gory, bloody head wound shown. Severed hands, sniffed and licked by dogs. Men pierced by arrows. Sword fighting. Face smashing. Choking. Biting. A monk is tied up and tortured. Blood sprays. Dead animals.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Monks drink wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pilgrimage is a grim medieval action/adventure story set in 13th-century Ireland. It's extremely violent, with tons of gory, wince-inducing scenes. A man is bludgeoned with rocks, men are pierced by arrows, battles are brutal. Expect sword fighting, torture, bloody wounds and blood sprays, severed limbs, dead animals, and more. Teens who like stars Tom Holland and Jon Bernthal -- or Game of Thrones fans -- may be intrigued, but they'll likely be disappointed.

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What's the story?

In PILGRIMAGE, young Brother Diarmuid (Tom Holland) is an inexperienced monk living in a remote monastery in Ireland, circa 1209 A.D. His friend, an unnamed mute monk (Jon Bernthal) looks after him. They're visited by Brother Geraldus (Stanley Weber), who tells them that the Church needs a holy relic that the monks have in their possession. So they must begin a long, treacherous journey, protecting the relic the entire way. They're joined by a soldier (Richard Armitage), who may or may not be trustworthy. As the journey wears on, Brother Diarmuid experiences unheard-of violence and finds courage he never knew he had.

Is it any good?

Brendan Muldowney directs this historical dirge, which is plagued by snooze-inducing seriousness, a dutiful reliance on genre chestnuts, and an overall lack of excitement. Game of Thrones this most certainly is not. Viewers who loved Holland's exuberance in Spider-Man: Homecoming will find none of that here; in Pilgrimage, he merely looks damp and confused. The actors speak (well, argue, mostly) in various languages, including Gaelic; there are subtitles, though all of it sounds tired. Bernthal comes off a bit better, perhaps due to the fact that his character has no dialogue; his expressive face and impressive physicality show that he's a true pro.

Muldowney's palette is gray and somber, and the music drones on, which will make viewers glad that they weren't around 800 years ago; it doesn't look like much fun. But, rather than keeping with any kind of old-fashioned motif, the director uses modern, wobbly hand-held camera for his muddy close-ups. Then, when the gruesome violence erupts, he responds with fast, choppy editing. Overall, this adventure-less adventure is about as thrilling as what the holy relic actually turns out to be when its box is opened.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Pilgrimage's violence. How intense is it? What affect does it have? Does exposure to violent movies or video games make kids more aggressive?

  • What is the movie's message about religion and religious beliefs? Do you agree?

  • What is the meaning of the religious icon? Why is it so ordinary looking?

  • How does this movie compare to other movies or TV shows you've seen that take place in the Middle Ages? What does that time seem like, overall?

Movie details

For kids who love action and adventure

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