A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
None. The movie revolves around the brutal interrogation and torture of a terror suspect.
Positive Role Models
Multiple law enforcement officers and military personnel -- including interrogator Henry Harold "H" Humphries and FBI Agent Helen Brody -- work to ensure the safety of themselves and their compatriots. But they bicker among themselves and quarrel about their chain of command. Some also use violence in an attempt to achieve their goals. Multiple characters are desensitized to violence.
Mix of ethnicities and genders across the main characters. Interracial and interfaith marriages. A White character who has converted to Islam is a terrorist, but this is not the only depiction of Muslim characters.
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Violence & Scariness
Guns handled by law enforcement. Terrorist threatens violence and mass deaths with explosives. Character assaulted with a blunt instrument. Impact injury shown, but no gore. Scenes of torture and interrogation, including bloody injury, broken bones, waterboarding, suffocation, and electrocution. Reference to rape and murder. A character has their throat slit. Another is shot in the head. Bloody injury and death.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mild references to sexual arousal and intercourse that are played for comic effect. Kissing. Terror suspect stripped to their underwear.
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Language used includes "s--t," "goddamn," "f--k," "assholes," "f---ing," and "bastard." Throwaway but derogatory reference to gay stereotypes.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A character repeatedly takes stimulant pills in order to stay awake.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Unthinkable is a violent thriller with terrorism and torture featuring heavily along with some strong language. Samuel L. Jackson plays Harold "H" Humphries, who is instructed to interrogate Steven (Michael Sheen), a U.S. national who has planted bombs at undisclosed locations. The movie is unrelentingly bleak, dealing with violence and traumatized, desensitized, and radicalized characters. While the central group of characters, including FBI agent Helen (Carrie-Anne Moss), work hard to achieve their aims, there is a lot of conflict and argument between the different branches of law enforcement and the military who are involved. Steven is a White American who has converted to Islam and answers to both his birth name and Muslim name of Yussuf. There is a lot of diversity in the film, including inter-faith and bi-racial marriages. Violence is frequent and bloody, featuring loss of life and a couple of graphic on-screen deaths. Torture features prominently, including several techniques that Helen argues are inhumane and illegal. Swearing -- including variants of "f--k" -- is frequent and arises from the tense situation that the characters find themselves in. In terms of drinking, drugs, and smoking, H takes some nondescript pills to help him stay alert and focus on his work. 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 2010 thriller is a bold but confused attempt to portray the messy, conflicted world of torturing terror suspects for information that will hopefully save lives. Right from the off, Unthinkable packs its talented cast into a claustrophobic space and quickly raises the tension. However, despite Michael Sheen hurling himself into the role of a radicalized "patriot" willing to take U.S. lives to prove his point, there are large sections of backstory and character building that are missing in action. Samuel L. Jackson's Henry Harold "H" Humphries is quickly found and sequestered to try and save the day. But even he can't elevate dialogue and a plot that makes H wildly unpredictable and arguably not very good at his job, despite multiple onlookers insisting otherwise, in the face of no real evidence.
Carrie-Anne Moss has a more grounded role in conflicted FBI Agent Helen Brody. Her horror at H's brutal interrogation methods mirror the audience's likely surprise and shock at what they're seeing. The power struggle between H and Helen isn't enough to make Unthinkable a compelling drama, though. The story moves in frustrating circles and arguments are repeated to the point where it fails to maintain its early momentum. Perhaps this mimics the real-life dilemma that presents itself when dealing with terror suspects and bomb threats. But there's none of the inventive storytelling or character development that's also needed to make this interesting. Before long the viewer is stranded on the sidelines along with the movie's underused supporting cast, watching the time tick down for all the wrong reasons.
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.