The Hornet's Nest

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Hornet's Nest Movie Poster Image
Powerful war documentary concentrates on emotion.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie emphasizes family and comradeship, with people working together and caring about one another and putting a high price on death. The movie doesn't make war look good, but it does make the bonding of soldiers look appealing.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Soldiers are shown to be protectors and helpers (swooping in to rescue an injured child, etc.). Mike and Carlos Boettcher are shown to be courageous journalists, dedicated to finding the truth in spite of great personal danger. They're awarded Emmys for their work.


No blood or gore is shown, but many real-life soldiers die in battle, though never actually on camera. Weapons and explosives are everywhere, and there's frequent shooting, plus some explosions. In one scene, viewers learn about a suicide bomber who killed several children.


Language is very strong, with frequent uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and "hell," plus "damn," "a--hole," "balls," "bastard," and one use of "Jesus" (as an exclamation).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Father and son are shown smoking in one scene (the father a cigar, the son a cigarette). The son, Carlos, admits that he smokes too much.

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.

User Reviews

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Adult Written byAmandalois76 July 4, 2018

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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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and documentaries

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