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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Theme of redemption.
Positive Role Models
Characters work in organized crime: Some might choose to do the right thing in a given situation, but they're not role models. "Good" or compassionate actions from the main characters carry a self-serving reward.
Main character Cuda is Latino (although actor Antonio Banderas is European), and the teen runaway he helps is Black and depicted positively. There's one queer character, but this appears to be largely to create a provocative and steamy scene. The most powerful person in the film is a female mob boss, but she's not depicted positively. Other than Cuda's wife and daughter, who are rarely on camera, women are depicted as sex objects.
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Violence & Scariness
Sex trafficking. A teen girl is attacked and abducted. Frequent, intense violence. Shootings, many fatal and visual. Aggressive stabbings. Street fighting with quite a few punches and lots of blood and injuries.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sex workers, dancers, and bartenders in a club are either topless or wearing leather and chain bikinis, trunks, and lingerie. Pornographic-style live feeds include images of scantily clad women touching themselves or each other. Kissing. Exotic dancing, including a steamy lap dance. Blooming romance between two characters who are shown kissing and, in an unrelated scene, waking up in the same bed.
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Near constant use of "f--k." Other strong language includes "ass," "bitch," "bulls--t," "goddamn," and "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Smoking by most characters throughout, made to look cool. In a trap house, crime lords are shown lighting and smoking marijuana, a needle is shown being prepped. A girl who sits with the crime lords looks out of it, the implication being that she's high.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Enforcer is a neo-noir crime thriller. Antonio Banderas stars as Cuda (as in "barracuda"), a slick mob enforcer who knows his actions have cost him everything. When a path to redemption opens up, he follows it, no matter the personal cost. Part of his character evolution is the discovery of a sex trafficking ring, and victims are shown being violently abducted, kept in rooms with locked cell doors, and topless in sexualized attire. Images on a television in the background are meant to depict live sex cams, with women gyrating on camera. Much of the action takes place in a club that features scantily clad club dancers; one scene shows a steamy lap dance. While the suggestion of sex is everywhere, kissing is the only interaction that actually appears. Violence is extreme, with one storyline revolving around a street fighter who bare-knuckle fights opponents to bloody unconsciousness. There are also close-range shootings and stabbings, with plenty of blood and spray. Negative characters smoke pot, with the implication of heavier drug use. Most characters smoke cigarettes in a way that glamorizes the act. Expect drinking and strong language throughout, including near constant use of "f--k." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Violent crime dramas are a dime a dozen, but this Miami-set redemption tale has some heart. As Cuda, Banderas dresses like the James Bond of organized crime, a signal that he's too classy to work for the mob (not to mention a reminder that Banderas is too classy to be in this kind of film). But he turns in a performance as solid as he might for a Pedro Almodóvar film, and that achievement shines a light on his fellow actors, whose work might otherwise be overlooked. Kate Bosworth takes an unexpected approach as a mob boss who exudes power through her calm and femininity. Australian newcomer Mojean Arias is street fighter Stray, a young man who's trying to figure out his path in a world with few options, and it's easy to see that he's one to watch. (On the other hand, while rap fans may enjoy seeing 2 Chainz, he should probably keep his day job.)
First-time feature director Richard Hughes and established writer W. Peter Iliff (Point Break, Patriot Games, Varsity Blues) work well together. The Enforcer isn't a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but the filmmakers' choice to use noir elements and tailor them to a world-weary henchman instead of a detective is an exciting adjustment. Viewers' introduction to Stray is attention-getting: The camera follows him for a full minute as he walks through the streets of Miami, psyching himself up for a fight. It's easy to imagine this scene being discussed at length in panels and conferences for the rest of Hughes' life. But once the story pivots into the underbelly of the Miami crime scene, it goes from gritty to icky. The hope that the film might rise above the low-budget guns-and-glory schlock the title promises disappears like Cuda's hope that he'll be able to escape his life of crime. By the end, it's clear that this is meant for audiences who enjoy a juicy blood splatter and dames in dominatrix gear holding a smoking gun.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.