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The Company (2007)
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this dark political thriller maintains a mysterious, foreboding tone that may unsettle sensitive viewers. Several violent incidents occur throughout the series, including murders, but many of these events are filmed from a distance. And the camera doesn't linger on victims or gore, focusing on evoking psychological tension more than visual shock. Several characters drink and smoke obsessively. Some scenes show people who are happily intoxicated, while others involve a bitter alcoholic. Romance is a big part of the series, so kissing, passionate embraces, and occasional references to sex appear. Some war scenes appear, as well as subtle references to gang rape.
What's the story?
Dark spy miniseries THE COMPANY traverses continents and decades to tell the story of the Cold War through the eyes of CIA and KGB operatives and collaborators. Co-executive produced by Ridley Scott, with a talented cast that includes Michael Keaton and Alfred Molina, it digs deep into a well-documented but still gripping period of world history. The series begins in the battleground between East and West Berlin in the 1950s, moves through the 1956 Hungarian uprising and the Bay of Pigs ordeal, and ends in the 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Throughout the decades, agents, their contacts, their enemies, and their family members fight philosophical, physical, and emotional battles.
Is it any good?
Despite the talent connected to the project, The Company fails to fully captivate. With so many characters and an unclear narrative trajectory, it feels like a mishmash of familiar plots and characters girded by artificial, sweeping emotion. A few characters -- like Keaton's counter-intelligence specialist -- stand out with quirky intensity, but others, including the lead character, CIA agent Jack McAuliffe (Chris O'Donnell), fall flat.
Devotees of Cold War history, spy stories, and romantic psychological thrillers will find something appealing in this well-produced project. Airing in two-hour segments, each episode feels like a feature-length film, with a unique look and tone. Though the content is surely adult, mature teens will easily handle the occasionally violent and mildly sexual elements. As for younger viewers, they probably won't even be interested.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of spy thrillers. Do you think real espionage is as exciting as it is on TV and in the movies? How have technology and the media changed the nature of the spy game? Families can also discuss the Cold War, Russia, and communism. What do parents remember about the Cold War? Teens: What do you know about that period? What kind of connections can you make in your own life to that time? How have politics changed (or not changed) since then?