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The Hornet's Nest
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 Hornet's Nest is a documentary about the war in Afghanistan. It centers on a veteran embedded journalist and his son and follows several soldiers into dangerous situations. No real blood or death is shown on camera, but there's frequent shooting and several explosions, and several real-life soldiers die. Language is an issue, with frequent use of strong words like "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch." Though the movie is powerful, it's not outraged or political. It's very emotional, focusing on the father-son relationship and soldiers' reactions to situations they've been in. The movie doesn't make war look good, but it does make the bonding of soldiers look appealing.
What's the story?
Mike Boettcher has been a war correspondent for decades, most frequently embedded in Iraq and Afghanistan. During this time, he's missed out on much of his home life, including seeing his son growing up. As Mike heads off on his latest assignment, his now-grown son, Carlos, demands to come, too, and Mike sees it as an opportunity to at last bond with him. But their destination includes some of the deadliest spots in Afghanistan, more or less right in the Taliban's backyard. In THE HORNET'S NEST, both men witness death and courage like they've never seen before, and they both discover something new about themselves.
Is it any good?
Documentary filmmakers David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud take raw war footage, combine it with newer sit-down interviews, and turn it into something quite powerful and emotional. The Boettcher footage feels extremely close to actual combat, with bullets nearly hitting the lens. (Carlos learns that a bullet, zooming by at close range, sounds like a buzzing bee.)
Though the movie includes facts and figures about numbers of people killed in the war and addresses the fact that it's now the longest war in U.S. history, it's more focused on the emotional side. Soldiers are interviewed about how they felt about a certain rescue or casualty. Mike suddenly feels a father's protective urge when his son goes out alone to film. But perhaps most powerfully, after the conclusion of a dangerous mission with heavy losses, a commanding officer who's unaware of being on camera breaks down and cries at the loss of so many young men.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Hornet's Nest's war violence. How much is and isn't shown? What effect does it have? How does it make you feel/react? Which has greater impact?
Does the movie offer any political commentary on the war itself? Is it anti-war? Can a movie be pro-soldier and anti-war?
Why does Mike Boettcher choose work over family?
Could any of the people in the movie be considered role models?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.