Parents' Guide to

The Art of War

By Betsy Wallace, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Espionage kill-fest isn't for teens.

Movie R 2002 117 minutes
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Audiences may be surprised that Wesley Snipes is so adept at playing a skilled covert agent. He's believably smart, strong, and suspicious, which is much more than can be said for the rest of the movie. There are only vague clues as to how characters and events relate to one another. Scenes are rapid, include many different versions of bad guys and dead bodies by the dozens. Perhaps if given more than a few seconds, viewers would discover that nothing makes sense.

The movie is at its best when Snipes is running after people. The chases are scary and almost always involve jumps from very high places. Since we learn almost nothing about Snipes's character, his agent-on-the-run intensity has to substitute for character development. The hi-tech computer equipment and super undercover agents--interwoven with story threads involving dead Vietnamese refugees and triads--seem as if they're leading viewers, along with Shaw, to an earth-shattering discovery. But it all boils down to a fight between Shaw and an ex-partner who inexplicably emerges as a major character in the movie's final scenes.

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