By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Likable, breezy heist movie has strong language.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The characters might argue that what they're doing is morally justified, but they're breaking the law, and they know they're breaking the law. Movie asks us to root for them, to cheer when they succeed.
Positive Role Models
The characters are criminals who are portrayed as likable. Thom has made some kind of invention that various oil companies want to purchase, but he seems to have some concern for the environment, demanding that his invention be used correctly, for the good of humankind, rather than for oil company profit. Lorraine is a self-sufficient, powerful woman.
Violence & Scariness
Gun briefly shown, used for threat.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief sex-related dialogue. Flirting.
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Strong, frequent language includes uses of "f--k," f--ker," "s--t," "bulls--t," "bitch," "son of a bitch," "Scheisse (German for "s--t"), "balls," "screw," and "shut up," plus exclamatory use of "Jesus." Slur "ladyboy" used.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Social drinking: whiskey and beer in bars/hotels. Characters drink shots at a dance club. Reference to someone smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Vault is a heist movie about a team of criminals trying to break into the world's most secure vault to steal centuries-old treasure. Language is the biggest issue, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and more. A gun is drawn, mainly as a threat, but otherwise, even though there's plenty of suspense/tension, there's not much violence of note. Expect brief sex-related dialogue and a bit of flirting. Characters drink whiskey and beer socially in bars and do shots in a dance club. A character's cigarette smoking habit becomes an important plot point. Freddie Highmore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) stars, and although the movie could have benefited from a stronger lead, it's still spirited, breezy fun for teens and adults.
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What's the Story?
In THE VAULT, Walter Moreland (Liam Cunningham) and his crew salvage a large collection of sunken treasure off the coast of Spain, but it's immediately taken by the government. Within the hoard is a clue left by Sir Francis Drake that promises to lead to even greater riches. So Walter and his crew of experts -- including master-of-disguise Lorraine (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) and diver James (Sam Riley) -- decide to steal it, which requires breaking into the world's most secure vault. They need to recruit an engineer, and young college student Thom Laybrick (Freddie Highmore) becomes the most likely candidate. Thom determines that the underground vault is actually a huge scale that, if tipped, causes a huge tank of water to empty into it. With the upcoming World Cup a cover-up distraction, Thom has only a few days to solve the puzzle.
Is It Any Good?
This spirited, fleet-footed heist tale feels like a lower-rent Mission: Impossible or Ocean's movie, but its intriguing puzzle and likable characters make it a pleasant distraction. Directed by Spanish-born Jaume Balagueró, known for his terrifying found-footage horror movie [REC] (2007) and its sequels, The Vault feels like a refreshing departure. Balagueró keeps up roller-coaster suspense while keeping the tone breezy and light -- and without resorting to much violence (though he certainly could have made more of the World Cup framing device). The fact that the vault is based on old mechanics and must be solved with simple logic feels like a bracing change from similar, technology-driven stories (it also recalls the National Treasure movies).
The cast of The Vault is largely made up of "types," but they keep the patter snappy, and each character gets a certain degree of individuality. Famke Janssen appears in a few scenes as a British intelligence officer whose sole job is to talk Walter out of his crazy scheme, but even she brings a little something to the proceedings. A potential weak link is Highmore, previously best known as the child star of Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Arthur and the Invisibles, and more. He's all grown up here, but he doesn't seem to have much range, and he often wears the same semi-blank expression. Nevertheless, he still has a likable quality, and his casting is easy to overlook in favor of the rest of the movie's fun.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about The Vault's violence. Were you surprised that a movie about a heist and criminals had so little violence? Did you miss it?
How is alcohol portrayed here? Is it glamorized? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?
Can you think of other movies that make criminal characters likable?
What's the appeal of "heist" stories like this one and the Mission: Impossible, Ocean's, and National Treasure movies?
Thom's ultimate solution for the vault is ultimately pretty simple and requires no modern technology. Have you ever solved a problem with a very simple idea?
- In theaters: March 26, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: March 26, 2021
- Cast: Freddie Highmore, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Sam Riley
- Director: Jaume Balaguero
- Studio: Saban Films
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
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