The Killer (O Matador)

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
The Killer (O Matador) Movie Poster Image
Excellent but extremely violent, bloody Brazilian Western.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 99 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Extremely violent Western, no positive messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. 

Violence

Extremely violent Western. Lots of blood. Characters shot and killed with rifles at point-blank range. A man is ordered to be raped. A woman is gang-raped in public by soldiers. A man has his tongue cut off in public in front of the townspeople by soldiers during a festival. Character stabbed in the throat. A man cuts off another man's fingers with a machete. A soldier gets his penis shot off by a vigilante. A man is bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer. Talk of how the region is so poor, peasants who can't afford to raise their babies leave them in the wild to be eaten by tigers. 

Sex

Lead character sleeps with prostitutes; a montage shows him having sex with various prostitutes in different sexual positions, sounds of bodies slapping together in rhythm. Naked breasts, brief. Brief shot in brothel of woman receiving oral sex from a woman while another woman lightly whips her rear end. Brief shot of a penis, nonsexual. During a formal lunch party, the wife of the wealthy landowner asks the attendees, "How long does your orgasm last?" 

Language

"Son of a bitch," "damn," "hell." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Man shown drunk in a tub with a bottle of tequila. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Killer (aka O Matador) is a 2017 Western movie set in Brazil in which a lawless assassin turns against the vicious and tyrannical landowner of the region. It's almost entirely in Brazilian, with English subtitles. This movie is extremely violent. Those expecting something more akin to traditional Westerns should look elsewhere. There is male and female rape. A man has his tongue cut off by soldiers. A soldier on the verge of urinating on a peasant has his penis shot off by a vigilante. Characters are shot and killed at point-blank range -- lots of blood. A man cuts off another man's fingers with a machete. The lead character spends all of his free time at the brothel -- a montage in which he's shown having sex with different prostitutes in different positions confirms this. There's a brief shot of bare breasts, of a penis, of a woman receiving oral sex from another woman while a third woman lightly whips her rear end. While it's an excellent Western, the graphic violence makes this best for older teens and adults.

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What's the story?

In THE KILLER, a baby boy is found by a hired assassin named Seven Ears in the wilds of the Perambuco region of Brazil in 1910, abandoned by his peasant parents to be eaten by wild animals because they couldn't afford to take care of him. Seven Ears raises the boy, and teaches him how to hunt, shoot, and kill. Then one day Seven Ears disappears, and the boy, now older (Diogo Morgado), must venture into the world to find Seven Ears. Instead, the young man meets Monsieur Blanchard, the tyrannical and murderous wealthy landowner of the region, who hires the young man -- who now goes by Cabileira after a childhood hero from a book he read -- to murder landowning farmers who won't sell their land to Monsieur Blanchard. Meanwhile, the countryside is also ravaged by "Monkeys," former soldiers who loot and steal anything they can get, and a vigilante named Sobral emerges to fight them and to fight for justice. As Cabileira blindly fights for Blanchard, he begins to question the world around him, especially when he discovers what happened to Seven Ears. Now, Cabileira must learn to fight and kill not just for the sake of money, but also to avenge the evil plaguing the region. 

Is it any good?

This is an excellent movie with clear nods to the revised Westerns of Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah. These nods come in the form of the grandeur of the epic story, the overall style, and especially the violence. This is certainly not the sanitized death of Gunsmoke. The violence is graphic, bloody, and brutal. And yet, while the violence has these qualities, these qualities are fitting to tell a story of Latin American greed, lawlessness, and colonial exploitation, however hard to watch the violence can be. 

There are times when the influences of the above-named directors start to feel almost heavy-handed. But those kinds of nods to the past are to be expected and even welcomed in Westerns. It's part of the canon, part of what connects the genre. Nonetheless, it bears repeating: The Killer is extremely violent, and those hoping for the expansive vistas and clear-cut good versus evil of perhaps a John Ford-style Western should look elsewhere. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Western movies. What's the appeal of the genre? Are Westerns like The Killer still relevant? Why or why not?

  • Contrast the violence in this Western with the way classic Westerns typically handled violence. What does the graphic violence reveal in terms of realism? Do you prefer an entertaining story or realistic violence in your Westerns?

  • How does this movie use the setting to tell its story?

Movie details

For kids who love Westerns and adventure

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