The Hornet's Nest

 
Powerful war documentary concentrates on emotion.
  • Review Date: June 6, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 93 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.

Violence

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.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

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).

Consumerism
Not applicable
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.

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?

QUALITY
 

With The Hornet's Nest, documentary filmmakers David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud take raw footage shot by father Mike and Carlos Boettcher, 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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:June 6, 2014
DVD release date:September 9, 2014
Cast:Mike Boettcher, Carlos Boettcher
Directors:David Salzberg, Christian Tureaud
Studio:Freestyle Releasing
Genre:Documentary
Run time:93 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language throughout

This review of The Hornet's Nest was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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