A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Caring for others, standing up to those who wish to harm them.
Positive Role Models
Ben shows bravery in fighting to protect himself, his home, and Sarah. Aaron claims to have good intentions but is deranged, murderous, and narcissistic. Seen through a series of flashbacks, Ben's father is shown to be living with a gambling addiction.
The lead characters are White, male, and able-bodied. There is some diversity among the supporting cast and some supporting roles for women, although they are underused.
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Violence & Scariness
Characters fire semi-automatic weapons. Other characters fire rifles to hunt and defend themselves with guns, knives, and axes. Punches and kicks thrown in other confrontations. Arson attacks. Characters killed in gunfights. Blood injuries but no gore. One reference to rape.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
References to reproduction.
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Language used includes "s--t," "ass," "f---ing," "f--k," "bitch," "son of a bitch," and "bulls--t."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Survivalist is a thriller set to the backdrop of a pandemic and has strong language and violence throughout. Former FBI agent Ben (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) finds himself taking on a gang, led by Aaron (John Malkovich), who aims to capture Sarah (Ruby Modine), a girl who may well be the answer to the viral outbreak. Ben shows bravery in the face of extreme danger, while Aaron, in contrast, thinks of himself as a positive role model and leader, but his decision making is in fact clouded by ego and arrogance. Violence is frequent but not graphic. The post-apocalyptic, lawless setting finds characters heavily armed and adept at handling different types of guns, while there is also one mention of rape. There are a number of on-screen deaths and some other bloody injuries. Language is also frequent and includes "bitch," and variants of "s--t" and "f--k." This is typically provoked by characters' distress, in the movie's numerous gunfights and altercations, as well as during Ben's multiple arguments with his father who is living with gambling addiction. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This odd mixture of pandemic thriller and family drama tries its best to utilize its small cast, budget, and limited number of settings. Center stage of The Survivalist is a stand-off between an unlikely hero whose single-mindedness brings him face-to-face with a violent gang in the aftermath of a devastating virus. But with no real characterization, surprises, or set pieces, the main act of survival is the audience's in making it through a 91-minute runtime that's mainly about how badly a heavily armed group of opponents can shoot at each other -- and miss.
Rhys Meyers does his best to make Ben a relatable hero. But the storylines showing us his past and present never mesh in a way that tells anything interesting or unique about him. John Malkovich adds some of his usual sparkle to the maniacal Aaron, but like Ben, his backstory and grand plan are both so limited that it's difficult to care what happens to him. The movie's biggest misstep, however, is to barely include Sarah, the source of the main characters' conflict. It's a bit like watching The Girl with All the Gifts without the girl in it.
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.