A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Survivor is a thriller set in a post-9/11 world of terrorists and traitors. In addition to references to 9/11 and war, there's some pretty strong (though mostly bloodless) violence, including bombs and explosions, shootings and killings, stabbings, fighting, and death. Language is infrequent, with sparing use of words including "f--k," "s--t," "bastard," and "bitch." Characters hold glasses of wine at a social function, and someone is said to be "swimming in dope." Despite a talented cast and director, the movie feels rather cheap and thrown together, and it's doubtful many teens will be interested.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Foreign Service Officer Kate Abbott (Milla Jovovich) is stationed at the U.S. embassy in London, hired to sniff out any potential terrorists who might be trying to enter the country. Just as she thinks she's found one, her boss, Bill Talbot (Robert Forster), takes over. Later, when Kate's colleagues are killed in a restaurant bombing, she realizes that she was also a target; soon, a hired killer called The Watchmaker (Pierce Brosnan) is after her to finish the job. To make matters worse, when Bill urns up dead, too, Kate gets the blame and finds herself at the center of a huge manhunt. Her only hope is to uncover the terrorists with the help of her trusted boss, Sam Parker (Dylan McDermott), and stop them before they can strike.
Is it any good?
Director James McTeigue has made solid movies before, but SURVIVOR feels second-rate, carelessly thrown together by all parties. While it's refreshing to see a thriller with a (theoretically) strong female lead, Jovovich's Kate Abbott is frustrating; she's supposed to be savvy and highly trained, but she makes every kind of rookie mistake. This kind of movie ought to be surprising, but instead, viewers are always a jump ahead of her. We already know who not to trust and where not to go, but Kate still does all of it.
And Brosnan should have had a great role, playing hired killer The Watchmaker, but his scenes are so flat and grim that it's difficult to have any fun with them. Images from and allusions to 9/11 add to the overall seriousness, but then the big showdown feels cut short -- as well as illogical.
Talk to your kids about ...
Why are hired killers/assassins such interesting characters? What would that job really be like? Would it be easy or hard?
The movie claims that 53 terrorist attacks have been prevented in New York since 9/11. Does this information make you feel safe? Scared? How could you find out more?
Is Kate a strong female role model? Why or why not?
- In theaters: May 29, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: June 23, 2015
- Cast: Milla Jovovich, Pierce Brosnan, Dylan McDermott
- Director: James McTeigue
- Studio: Alchemy
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, some action and brief strong language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love thrills
Top advice and articles
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.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch