Shooting Heroin

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Shooting Heroin Movie Poster Image
Anti-drug film has vigilante justice, guns, language.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 90 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Drugs will destroy your life -- and, even worse, they'll destroy the lives of those you love. Get involved to protect your community. Equates masculinity and strength with guns.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Three disparate townspeople come together to form a volunteer drug task force: a young single dad/veteran, a middle-aged mother, and a prison worker. Some diversity in the cast.

Violence

Guns are everywhere. They're used to threaten others and, in one scene, lead to bloody death of sympathetic character. A character holds a rifle in one hand, beer in another at a campfire. Aggressive pushing and shoving. Main character commits arson. Story is about group of vigilantes who think the only way to rid their town of a drug problem is by killing the dealers. A dead deer is cut open, blood pours out. Addicts overdose.

Sex
Language

Frequent cursing, including "ass," "circle jerk," "dumbass," "hell," many uses of "f--k" and "s--t."

Consumerism

Busch and Michelob Ultra beers are featured, with labels showing.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Constant smoking and drinking beer and hard liquor. Main character works at a bar, and several scenes take place there. Drug use is put in a very negative and educational light, but there are scenes of young people shooting up, buying drugs. Discussion of addict being given morphine at a hospital. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shooting Heroin is an anti-drug drama about vigilantes who take on the opioid epidemic in their town "by any means necessary." Guns are toted around everywhere and, in one instance, used to threaten dealers -- but the actual gun violence is limited and doesn't benefit the film's heroes. Since the film is about the opioid epidemic, heroin use and bags of powder are shown, but much more time is dedicated to explaining why kids should never, ever take drugs. That said, the main characters are chain smokers and nonstop drinkers (many scenes take place in a bar). All of the characters congregate at the neighborhood Catholic church, one character talks frequently about God, and the congregation asks the reverend whether it's a sin to kill someone who's perpetrating evil. That question is never answered, and the film is fairly devoid of any actual faith-based insights.

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What's the story?

In SHOOTING HEROIN, three residents of Whispering Pines, Pennsylvania, who've lost loved ones to drugs form an anti-drug task force to combat the opioid crisis in their community. When their overzealous methods get them into trouble with the law, they take matters into their own hands. 

Is it any good?

This drama feels like someone came up with a title so clever that they had to write a script around it. "How do you solve the problem of people shooting heroin? By SHOOTING those bringing in the HEROIN! Yeah!" There's nothing new or revelatory about this film: It's basically a brief news story about the opioid epidemic imagined into a story in which a few people who've lost loved ones fight back and, in the midst, lose their way. It's fine to have a fond place in our heart for Charles Bronson, but his vengeance-fueled Death Wish movies weren't actually good.

This vigilante film is less mesmerizing and satisfying than those classics, but it is far more responsible. While guns are so omnipresent in Shooting Heroin that it seems like the citizens of Whispering Pines might carry a rifle into a Chuck E. Cheese, their use is more limited -- and has more impact -- than you'd predict. But the rest falls short. Central character Hazel (played believably by Sherilyn Fenn), the mother of two sons who died from the same needle, spends a good deal of the film imploring school children to stay away from drugs, although her arguments are unlikely to change the invincible attitude of teens. Edward (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) is so angry that police are arresting drug users rather than dealers that he can't even speak -- he can only hiss through gritted teeth. And Adam (Alan Powell), the single dad/Army veteran hero, is so wracked with guilt over his sister's death that he takes time away from his toddler and his Confederate flag-flying bar to chase down drug dealers -- but to what end? The movie spends very little time with any character who's actually struggling with opioid addiction. And despite all the energy the characters spend on ending drug abuse in their town, it ends with a whimper. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether Adam is a role model. How would you feel about someone like this in real life?

  • How is drug use depicted? What about drinking and smoking? What message does that send?

  • This is the first film to directly address the opioid crisis in America, and it was crowdfunded to get the message out. Do you think film is an effective tool to spread positive and/or informative messages? Do you think this film succeeds?

  • What do you think about the film's notion that if you don't like the way the government (including the police and the justice department) is handling something, you should take the matter into your own hands?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love taking action to solve problems

Themes & Topics

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