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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.
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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 ...
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?
- In theaters: September 20, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: January 14, 2020
- Cast: Nicolas Cage, Leslie Bibb, Laurence Fishburne
- Director: Jason Cabell
- Studio: Quiver Distribution
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence and disturbing images, drug use, strong sexual content, and language
- Last updated: January 13, 2020
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