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Parents' Guide to

The Gateway

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Drugs, drinking, sex, profanity in violent crime actioner.

Movie R 2021 91 minutes
The Gateway Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

This gritty crime thriller is unequivocally for adults -- specifically, those who appreciate and empathize with former fighter-turned-child welfare officer Parker. His better years long gone, Parker is making too little money at a thankless job. He's trying to keep families together and, in return, those families treat him with irritation. To Parker, the world is upside down: When a co-worker makes inappropriate comments about one of Parker's charges, he handles it in a way that feels justified to him (and might have been looked upon sympathetically by certain groups/demographics in the past): He punches the guy right in his loud mouth. Of course, the modern world has a different view of his response. It's clear that he's meant to be a stand-in for people who feel like the rules have changed around them and wonder whether they still belong.

Beyond its extreme violence, the film's biggest issue for younger audiences is that Parker is positioned as the film's moral authority. He's the only one who cares, who sees the humanity in people dealing with tough situations, and he'll do anything to protect kids from growing up in the U.S. foster care system. That makes it all the more problematic that he drinks on the job and snorts drugs without a second thought. This is the guy deciding who is and isn't a suitable parent? The character intended to be seen as the film's villain -- paroled father Mike (Avery) -- accurately calls Parker out for having alcohol on his breath while checking up on his daughter (and, for that matter, continuing to come around after his assignment has been removed). Still, Parker is an unexpectedly complex character in an otherwise rote shoot-'em-up action film, and while The Gateway doesn't take you anywhere worth going, at least it takes you somewhere different.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: September 3, 2021
  • On DVD or streaming: September 7, 2021
  • Cast: Frank Grillo , Olivia Munn , Keith David
  • Director: Michele Civetta
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors, Asian actors, Black actors
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Run time: 91 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: strong violence, pervasive language, drug use, some sexual content and nudity
  • Last updated: June 20, 2023

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