A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Both "terrorists" and U.S. agents use underhanded tactics; parents and children are at odds.
Violence & Scariness
Brutal violence throughout, including torture, as well as explosions in crowded streets. An early scene shows a suicide bombing in North Africa in which a CIA agent dies in Douglas' lap (blood everywhere). Anwar is tortured repeatedly -- he's tied to a chair, beaten, choked, dragged, kicked, and electrified. Photos of martyrs show maimed bodies. In a tense, lengthy scene, Fatima runs to stop Khalid's suicide mission, with pounding percussion and fast cutting. A bombing near the end is catastrophic, killing multiple people and leaving others traumatized and bloody.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Khalid and Fatima kiss a couple of times. Anwar appears naked in several scenes, usually shadowed; his nakedness (which is non-sexual) is a sign of his vulnerability (his body is bloodied and bruised from torture).
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Several uses of "f--k," plus occasional other profanity, like "hell," "son of a bitch," and "goddammit."
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Products & Purchases
Sony TV, Washington Post.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Several characters smoke cigarettes and cigars. Douglas drinks hard liquor to show despair; he also goes to a bar where he smokes an opium-like drug from a water pipe. Douglas appears drunk and upset.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this heavy drama isn't for kids, even though it stars tween/teen favorites Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal. Not only does it deal with the many complicated political and cultural issues surrounding torture, but the dialogue -- which is focused on policy and intrigue -- will likely bore younger viewers. There's also plenty of violence, including explosions, shooting, and, yes, torture (there are difficult images of the victim's pain and the aggressor's visceral calculations). The torture victim appears naked in a small, dank cell, mostly in shadow. Other scenes show upset victims and negotiators; particularly wrenching is a young wife's anguished pleading that a CIA officer answer questions about her missing husband. Language includes some uses of "f--k" and other minor profanity. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Anguished and well-meaning, this film raises questions concerning American use of torture. While it represents the dire threat of jihadist terrorism (here, a suicide bomb in an unidentified North African city that kills civilians and a CIA agent), Gavin Hood's film also challenges the effectiveness of torture as a way to fight back. But the overly simplified story focuses solely on the moral agonies and stubborn heroism of white U.S. citizens, mainly the very visible struggles of significantly named Freeman , while the film's most compelling plot about the Abasi family's struggles takes a back seat.
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Our Editors Recommend
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