A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Makes point that, in a huge, emotionally charged environment such as post-9/11 United States, it's difficult to know what the right thing is. At core of story are messages about dangers of revenge and mob mentality.
Positive Role Models
Nancy Hollander is tough and serious; she pursues what she believes is right, even though she meets with resistance, challenges. Lt. Col. Stuart Couch turns out to be a decent person once he gives up on idea of revenge, starts to realize that there are other wrongs to be righted. After 9/11 attacks, members of U.S. government locked people up without fair trial or even humane treatment, mainly due to anger and emotion. When people tried to stand up for what was right, they were seen as traitors.
Violence & Scariness
A person is tortured. A masked woman climbs on top of a seated male prisoner, tries to force him to have sex with her. Kicking, punching, blood on floor. Bag on person's head; head held underwater. People are forced to hold in "stress positions." Suggestion of water torture. Descriptions and images of prisoners being tortured, kept awake, with loud music. Sleep deprivation. Person with beaten face, cuts on face, bloody wounds, puffy eye. Brief guns and shooting. Injection. Death penalty is mentioned.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
All content related to sex is violent in nature; see Violence for details.
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Strong, frequent language includes "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "son of a bitch," "hell," and "scumbag," plus "praise be to God."
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Products & Purchases
McDonald's Filet-O-Fish is mentioned and shown prominently in one scene. (A man sniffs the bag and puts it down, apparently repulsed.) The E! Entertainment network is mentioned and briefly seen.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Cigarette smoking. People drink beer while watching football. More beer-drinking at a holiday party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Mauritanian is an intense fact-based drama about Mohamedou Ould Salahi (Tahar Rahim), who was arrested on flimsy evidence connecting him to the 9/11 attacks and held without being charged in Guantanamo Bay until lawyer Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) tried to free him. It has graphic torture-related violence, including a scene involving a masked woman trying to force a male prisoner to have sex with her. It also has punching, kicking, blood, bloody wounds, sleep deprivation, stress positions, and water torture. Language is strong and fairly frequent, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more. Characters smoke cigarettes and drink beer in social situations. It's a bit lifeless, but it gets its point across thanks to fine performances from the stars, including Rahim, Foster, and Benedict Cumberbatch. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Based on harrowing true events, this drama has too many moving parts that don't really move much, and it never feels very important or very emotional, but the fine cast at least makes it watchable. Directed by Oscar-winning documentarian Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September), The Mauritanian feels somewhat similar to Macdonald's other based-on-a-true-story drama, The Last King of Scotland. It's professional and well acted, if rather blandly serious and without much personality. At least it makes Salahi something of a major character, with his own agenda, rather than someone who appears only through the eyes of White characters. And Rahim (best known for the Oscar-nominated French movie A Prophet) is strikingly good.
Foster plays Hollander with no-nonsense energy, having a little fun shooting wry grins at the other characters, who can't believe that she can pull this off. Cumberbatch shows up with a surprising Southern accent, projecting decency and goodness even though he starts the story from a place of revenge and on the "wrong" side. Indeed, The Mauritanian seems to assume that Salahi is innocent -- or at least, even if he's not, that the U.S. government is also guilty. The movie offers some information about the horrific conditions at Gitmo and references to how Hollander and Duncan's work would have made them look like traitors. More of these kinds of elements might have elevated the drama, but as it stands, the movie does just what it needs to do to get its point across.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.