Victor

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Victor Movie Poster Image
Drug-addicted gang member reforms in faith-based true story.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 105 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Young people make stupid mistakes but some of them can be lucky enough to overcome them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Victor is a nice teenager who joins a Brooklyn gang and is enticed into heroin addiction by other members. Like many young people, he believes that trying it "just once" won't put him at risk for addiction, but in no time he's stealing to support his habit and nearly dies of an overdose. His supportive parents put him in several rehab institutions, but none work until he surrenders to Jesus. Victor gets a friend hooked on heroin. After he gets clean, he takes her from the dealer she lives with and brings her into rehab.
 

Violence

Gangs go to war with guns and knives. One gang member shoots an opposing gang member dead. Gang members break into and rob stores. Gang life is depicted as both fun and menacing.
 

Sex

Victor is attracted to the girlfriend of his rival gang's leader. They spend long moments looking at each other with desire.

Language

"Hell" and "ass."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many gang members smoke cigarettes, use heroin, and drink beer. One dies of an overdose. Victor both sells and uses heroin. The pain and illness of cold turkey withdrawal is shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Victor is an inspirational story about a youth from Puerto Rico who falls in with a Brooklyn gang in the early 1960s and becomes involved in crime, drugs, and violence. A murder is seen and drug addiction and its horrors are portrayed. Many gang members smoke cigarettes, use heroin, and drink beer. One dies of an overdose. Victor both sells and uses heroin. The pain and illness of cold turkey withdrawal is shown. Belief in a Christian God is presented as the cure to addiction. Expect to hear the word "hell."

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What's the story?

VICTOR is based on the autobiography Son of Evil Street by Victor Torres, who moved with his family from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn, New York, in search of a better life in the early 1960s. Although Victor (Patrick Davis) seems to be a good kid who loves his parents and little brother, the relocation introduces him to gang life, violence, crime, and heroin addiction. His parents (Lisa Vidal and Jose Zuniga) put him into several rehab institutions, but he relapses into drug use as soon as he gets out. Nothing works until he "surrenders" to God through the work of a local church group's addiction center run by a pastor (Josh Pence) who had also grown up in a bad neighborhood and managed to find his way out through God. After Victor gets straight, he goes on to help addicts by starting religious rehab programs in Boston and Virginia.

Is it any good?

This movie overcomes early, clichéd moments depicting youthful bad judgment mostly owing to a winning performance by Patrick Davis in the title role. When movies are structured unimaginatively and adhere to conventions established by other unimaginative movies, direction and script give away all the dramatic tension from the start. You've seen the beleaguered mother, the dad who brought the family from somewhere for the better life and now has no job, the innocent little sibling who everyone wants to protect but who is clearly vulnerable and at risk. You've seen the man-child -- who thinks he's all grown up and knows everything –- act stupidly and tell his parents they don't know what they're talking about. And you've probably seen the troubled youth pull himself back from the edge with the help of good parents, a helpful preacher, and a newfound belief in God.

Yet by the end of Victor, solid performances and a heartfelt message deliver an emotionally true experience. And while this may not be everyone's cup of tea, if it moves a troubled kid to find his way to a decent life, then, hey, why complain?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how family members help each other. Do you think Victor would have survived if his parents hadn't intervened to help him kick heroin? Why or why not?

  • Why do you think young people join gangs? Do you think gangs attract kids who might feel powerless or unable to get ahead in life? Do you think kids believe that being a gang member will give them status?  

  • How can religion help some addicts? How do other addicts manage their addiction besides relying on religion?

Movie details

For kids who love faith-based movies

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