A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film's main themes revolve around moral ambiguity, criminal justice, family loyalty, and greed. All of the gangsters portrayed in the movie are Hispanic, while nearly all of the cops are white, but this isn't inaccurate considering the New York neighborhood where the action takes place. A cop calls Spanish "that monkey language."
Violence & Scariness
Violence is realistic and bloody. Dead bodies are shown lying in pools of blood; people are shot execution style; blood splatter is visible on windows and on the ground; a character commits suicide by shooting himself; two characters have a bloody fist fight; someone is beaten to death; a character threatens to disfigure/kill an infant; and more.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Couples kiss and embrace; a drug dealer seems to have sex with his girlfriend in front of other people.
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Strong and frequent language, most notably "f--k" and its derivatives. Other frequently used words include "a--hole," "bitch," and "s--t." Spanish speakers should be aware that there are also plenty of unsubtitled vulgarities in scenes featuring the gangsters.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drug dealing is a major part of the story, so there are a couple of quick glimpses of characters using drugs; several characters smoke and drink heavily in bars or elsewhere; one man is portrayed as a borderline alcoholic.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this police drama tackles mature themes that aren't likely to appeal to younger viewers. Older teens familiar with stars Colin Farrell and Edward Norton may be interested, but this is definitely a parents'-night-out pick. There's hard-R language (including "f--k" and its derivatives) and realistic violence that includes multiple shoot-outs and execution-style murders, a suicide, a baby's life put in jeopardy, and a substantial amount of blood. The sex is limited to married couples kissing and embracing and one quick glimpse of a moaning drug dealer and his girlfriend. Drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol are prevalent. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
While much of the story is predictable, the movie is saved by the performances, especially Norton's and Emmerich's. And Farrell is alternately nuanced and over-the-top but ultimately excels as the shady, unrepentant Jimmy. Unfortunately, things get bogged down by the personal subplots involving the women in the cops' lives, especially the unresolved relationship between Ray and his estranged wife, Tasha (Carmen Ejogo). Jennifer Ehle, who's a brilliant, underrated actress reminiscent of a younger Meryl Streep, does her best as Frannie's cancer-stricken wife, but essentially, the women are one-dimensional.
The most realistic aspect of director Gavin O'Connor's story is how seamlessly he integrated the Dominican gang culture of New York's Washington Heights into the picture. The soundtrack features several songs by popular Latino rappers and Reggaeton stars; the Spanish-speaking characters are actually played by native speakers who can spit out streams of colloquialisms without taking a breath. Granted, it might still be considered un-PC to depict a community as full of gun-toting dealers, but at least O'Connor paid attention to the neighborhood. But that sliver of authenticity can't make up for the fact that this is an overlong crime drama that takes itself too seriously and obviously aims for the heights of Martin Scorsese's The Departed but falls somewhere slightly below the mark of We Own the Night.
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Our Editors Recommend
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