Running with the Devil

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Running with the Devil Movie Poster Image
Fascinating but flawed, mature story of illegal drug trade.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 100 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Shows various sides of illegal drug industry, from the farmer's pride to the cutthroat ways that people try to steal from one another (and vicious, violent punishments that result) to the actual harm that can come from using drugs. Also shows the law being unable to keep up with all of it -- and, in one case, resorting to extreme methods.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even characters on the "right" side of the law aren't particularly admirable. Overall, characters are thin and seemingly without any morals, hesitation, or doubt about their paths in life.


Character is lit on fire. Guns and shooting; characters shot, with blood spurts. A young child's parents die ("I can't wake them up"). Throat slicing. Dead body hanging. Peeling skin and feeding to dogs. Car running over dead bodies. Blood puddles. Fall from high cliff. Character chained by wrists. Character hunts and shoots rabbits (corpses shown).


A man masturbates while watching two partly naked women in a booth at a sex club; partial naked breast shown. A character has sex with two prostitutes; thrusting is shown, but no graphic nudity. Sex toys. Same character later hires a third prostitute. A different character visits a strip club, has sex with a prostitute (also thrusting, no graphic nudity). Naked man shown tied up on floor; no sensitive parts seen. Naked breasts seen in artwork. Character dressed only in skimpy underwear.


Frequent use of "f--k," "s--t," "motherf----r," "p---y," "c--t," "bitch," "d--k," "get laid." Middle-finger gesture.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Minor characters overdose on drugs and die. One character says that he "can't stop" using. Drug dealing/the drug industry is the main story. Cocaine shown throughout. Heroin mentioned. Heavy cocaine use. Wine with dinner. Some cigarette smoking. Cigar smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Running with the Devil is a crime movie about the inner workings of the illegal drug industry. Violence is very strong, with guns, shooting, and blood spurts. Plus, a character is burned alive, a throat is sliced, pieces of skin are fed to dogs, and a young child finds her parents dead. Sexual content is also very mature: A character visits a sex club and hires several prostitutes; a masturbating motion is shown, as is repeated thrusting, but graphic nudity is limited to a glimpse of a partial breast and drawings of naked breasts in artwork. Another character also hires a prostitute, and sex toys are shown. Language is quite salty, with frequent use of "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," and more. Cocaine is the story, and the drug is shown and used throughout; one character confesses to having a problem, and others overdose and die. The movie is consistently fascinating, even if it tries to get a bit too clever and skimps on character. Nicolas Cage and Laurence Fishburne co-star.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 16-year-old Written byMahdirad13 October 7, 2019

do not waste your time to see this movie

It was really disaster in the form specially in the screenplay. we cant understand the characters and the process of story. just like some moving pictures are s... Continue reading

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What's the story?

In RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL, a man called The Cook (Nicolas Cage) uses his restaurant as part of a cocaine ring. One day he gets a call from The Boss (Barry Pepper); something is going wrong somewhere along the line, and the shipments have been arriving light. So The Cook goes on a worldwide tour, monitoring the latest shipment, starting from the farm where the product is initially harvested by The Farmer (Clifton Collins Jr.) and following it to its arrival in the United States. What The Cook doesn't yet know is that his associate, The Man (Laurence Fishburne), has been cutting and re-selling the drug on the side. After a snag in the plan, The Cook and The Man must carry the drugs cross-country in the snowy wilderness, where anything could happen to either of them. And an FBI agent (Leslie Bibb) is hot on their trail.

Is it any good?

This crime procedural is consistently fascinating as it charts the minutiae of the drug business -- but it also tries to be a bit too clever and neglects the characters in the process. Writer-director Jason Cabell is clearly intrigued by the whole process; Running with the Devil may be the first movie to show how cocaine is farmed. Those sequences have an ironically pure, sweet quality as the farmer's wife takes the kids out of school so they can help harvest, and the farmer exhibits clear pride in preparing the product. Yet for all this enthrallment, Cabell also acknowledges the industry's indisputably evil side later in the story.

The movie is likewise fascinated with power -- illustrating how any number of lower-tier drug lords always have a boss above them -- and money, providing text that charts the way cocaine's value rises after every stop it makes. But while Cage does his best playing a two-sided character -- a schlubby, puffy homebody/pizza chef who turns on cool confidence while working the drug trade -- the rest of the characters disappear inside their one-word descriptors. Fishburne, for example, has a blast behaving badly as "The Man" but never fully comes to life, and the same goes for the rest of the otherwise able cast. But Running with the Devil gets points for effort, and it's worth a look.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Running with the Devil depicts drug use and the drug industry. Is it glamorized? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?

  • How intense is the movie's violence? How did it make you feel? What's shown and not shown? How does media violence impact kids?

  • How is sex depicted? What values are imparted?

  • What's the relationship like among the farming families in the movie? Is it possible to be a good family and participate in an illegal activity?

Movie details

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