The Warning

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
The Warning Movie Poster Image
Bullying, cursing, violence in Spanish thriller.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 92 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

No positive messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. 

Violence

A man is shot, killed in a gas station minimart; another character is also shot and goes into a coma. Blood. Flashback scenes of gun violence resulting in death. One of the lead characters, almost 10 years old, is a frequent target of bullies; they push and shove him, and in one scene, force him to take his clothes off and take his picture and threaten to post it on the internet if he reports the bullying to any adult authority figures. 

Sex

Bullies try to force a tween boy to buy or steal one of the pornographic magazines for sale in a gas station minimart. 

Language

"F--k" used numerous times. "F--ker," "s--t," "a--hole," "bastards." Teen bullies frequently call the tween they're bullying "d--khead." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Talk of buying champagne, but no drinking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Warning is a 2018 Spanish thriller in which a man discovers a numerical pattern behind a shooting that has left his friend in a coma. There's frequent bullying. One of the lead characters is a tween boy who is the target of teen bullies. These bullies push and shove the boy, try to force him to buy a pornographic magazine in a gas station minimart, and force him to take his clothes off and take his picture -- threatening to post the picture on the internet if he tries to get help from any adults in the school. There are shooting deaths and blood, as well as profanity, including regular use of "f--k." 

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What's the story?

In April of 2008, Jon (Raul Arévalo) witnesses the shooting of his friend Pablo in a gas station minimart in THE WARNING. Ten years later, tween Nico is a frequent target of bullies, and finds a note in a video game magazine informing him that if he sets foot in the minimart on his 10th birthday -- April 12 -- he will die. Nico, his mother (Aura Garrido), and a school administrator try to find out who was responsible for this note. Determined to prove the note wrong and thus encourage Nico to be braver than he is in all situations, she plans to take him to the minimart and force him to go inside and buy something to show that the note was a cruel trick. Back in 2008, while Pablo is in a coma, Jon -- math-obsessed and struggling with schizophrenia -- learns of a shooting death that happened in the same location in 1976, as well as other shootings. Jon begins to see numerical patterns -- how the same number of people of the same age are there when the shootings happen. As his research becomes more detailed and obsessive, his calculations reveal that a 10-year-old boy will be shot and killed at the gas station minimart in April of 2018. Jon must find a way to warn the families of babies born on April 12, 2008 -- while it seems Pablo is dying -- to keep their kids safe on their 10th birthday.  

Is it any good?

This film manages to seamlessly tell two stories at once as they slowly begin to merge despite being separated by exactly 10 years. It's clear what's at stake for these characters -- the tween who must learn to stand up for himself, the math-obsessed man who must overcome his schizophrenia, the young woman holding on for a miracle as her fiancee-to-be is in a coma after he's shot. Such character depth prevents The Warning from being little more than an exercise in mystery math. 

While the two stories at once works, the story itself that links the two comes off as less than original. By this point, Jon, the "math whiz obsessive struggling with mental illness" is as stock as any other stock character in movies, despite the quality of the acting. And for fans of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Jon's wall of scribbled notes and yarn linking this pattern to that pattern is reminiscent of the wall Charlie made about Carol and Pepe Silvia after drinking too much coffee at his short-lived mailroom job. Still, teens looking for something different might be interested.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about bullying. How is bullying shown in The Warning? Were the adult responses, from parents and school administrators, appropriate courses of action? 

  • How did the movie create two stories happening seemingly at once, despite the stories happening 10 years apart from each other? 

  • How was mental illness shown in the movie? 

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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