A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Beast (aka La Belva) is a 2020 Italian action movie (with subtitles) in which a war veteran struggling with PTSD must rescue his daughter from a vicious gang of sex traffickers. Expect lots of action movie violence, including killing by guns shot at point-blank range, sniper fire, stabbings, and suffocation. In flashback scenes, the lead character is shown being tortured while chained and also shown being waterboarded. Fighting with kicks, punches, knives. Cocaine use in a nightclub and by some of the villains. Three teen boys share a joint while talking in a lewd manner about a girl they know. Some profanity, including "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole."
What's the story?
In THE BEAST, Leonida Riva is a former Special Forces soldier who did tours of duty in many of the world's most war-torn regions. Years later, he struggles with PTSD, and relies on increasingly strong dosages of medication to get him through. His relationship with his ex-wife and two kids has been strained for years, and when his teen son Mattia is tasked with driving his sister Teresa to go visit their dad, Mattia instead opts to stop off at a burger joint to hang out with his friends. While Mattia's back is turned, Teresa disappears. The police arrive on the scene, but by the time they're just starting to investigate, Leonida is already in pursuit of the vehicle that witnesses saw Teresa being forced into. As he relentlessly searches for Teresa, Leonida has seemingly reverted into the headspace of the soldier he used to be. Meanwhile, the police, including the cynical Detective Simonetti, grow increasingly concerned over Leonida's involvement. As they start to close in on the abductors, Leonida discovers that Teresa has been kidnapped by sex traffickers, and he must find a way to infiltrate their hiding place and rescue her before she's sold to the highest bidder.
Is it any good?
In The Beast (aka La Belva), a man must use his extensive military skills and experience to rescue his daughter after she's kidnapped by sex traffickers. If this sounds a bit like the 2009 Liam Neeson movie Taken, you're not wrong. It's not an exact comparison, but it's enough to give you the basic idea. For better or worse, this is a standard action movie in which a "strong, silent type" action movie hero must come to the rescue despite cynical police detectives and the kind of over-the-top bad guys who enjoy the finer things in life, such as classical music, while psychotically killing a lackey who failed at the job he was asked to do. Our hero, Leonida, struggles with PTSD and the basic demands of functioning in society, but, not unlike one John Rambo, finds that he can come to the rescue by reverting to the soldier he was born and trained to be.
Despite the many cliches and action movie tropes, The Beast is enjoyable for what it is -- an action movie. Despite its total lack of surprise, once it gets started, the action doesn't relent, and so there isn't enough of a pause to ponder how much this movie borrows from the action movies of the last quarter century. It's entertainment that doesn't require much thought or reflection. Even the predictability of the climactic scene is enjoyable. A bad action movie would have no action, and a good action movie would have action presented in innovative ways. Like most action movies, this lands somewhere in the middle.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about action movies. How does this compare to other action movies you've seen? What elements do all action movies share?
How much of the violence seemed necessary for the story, and how much seemed gratuitous?
How did the movie show how PTSD affects the lead character, not only in the direct story, but also in his personal life?
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