Father and child sit together smiling while looking at a smart phone.

Want more recommendations for your family?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration

Parents' Guide to


By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Good-looking, ambitious, but muddled '40s-set thriller.

Movie R 2015 105 minutes
Shanghai Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say Not yet rated
Kids say (2 ):

Written by the talented Hossein Amini and clearly inspired by spy and detective movies of the 1940s, this seems to have been a labor of love. But SHANGHAI is so convoluted that it eventually becomes lost. That said, the cast is a great collection of international personalities, all of whom seem to fit right into the period clothing and setting, and they all move and speak with the appropriate rhythms. And for a long time, it's easy to follow them, even as the plot becomes more complex.

Amini's screenplay is certainly ambitious, but as it reaches its climax, it takes too many short cuts and can't keep up its high level of storytelling. Director Mikael Hafstrom -- whose previous movie with Cusack, the ghost story 1408, was so vividly atmospheric and effective -- seems rather confused here. The movie frequently betrays too many nervous cuts, as if to cover up Hafstrom's increasing discombobulation as to what's actually going on. But Shanghai may have been doomed anyway; it sat on the shelf for five years before finally being released in the United States.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: October 2, 2015
  • On DVD or streaming: January 5, 2016
  • Cast: John Cusack , Gong Li , Chow Yun-Fat
  • Director: Mikael Hafstrom
  • Inclusion Information: Asian actors
  • Studio: Radius TWC
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Run time: 105 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: strong violence, some drug use and brief language
  • Last updated: January 2, 2023

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate