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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Anti-war sentiment. Details comic inadequacies of the U.S. "war machine." Comments upon fruitlessness of a counter-insurgency strategy; reliance on an over-confident, clueless leader; and the dangers of lack of quality control in wartime.
Positive Role Models
Satirized leading characters (military officers and governmental liaisons) are set up as either political dupes, egotistical blowhards, or clueless. Hapless troops are portrayed as innocents caught up in events in which they have no control. Ethnic diversity. No females.
Violence & Scariness
Late sequences only. Fierce gun/explosives battle. Hand-to-hand combat. Deaths. Bodies revealed.
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Frequent profanity :"s--t," "goddamnit," "Jesus H. Christ," and many forms of "f--k."
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Products & Purchases
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Multiple scenes show troops drinking, with some drunkenness. Reference to heroin as source of income in Afghanistan. A reference to being "high all the time."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that War Machine is a Netflix Original movie. It's a re-imagined, thinly disguised comedic portrayal of events that took place in Afghanistan in 2009-2010. An army general, designated commander of US forces, touted as "the finest of warriors and leader of men" arrives in the war-torn territory to turn around a long, grueling, mostly unsuccessful effort to rid the country of its "insurgency" and the Taliban. Unfortunately, as depicted in this satire, that general is ill-prepared for the impossible task that he's been given, and, sadly, too pompous and clueless to recognize that fact. One lengthy battle sequence toward the end of the movie is suspenseful and violent; scenes with guns and explosions are graphic; people (including innocents) are killed. Profanity is heard frequently, including "s--t" and many uses and forms of "f--k." Soldiers drink and get drunk in multiple scenes; heroin is mentioned as a cash crop in the country, and a player is referred to as being "high all the time." Not for kids. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Nothing's harder than finding the fine line between satire and caricature, and though director and cast aren't fully up to the task, the film still scores some strong points about both ego and war. The foundation of the story told in War Machine is true. A year in Afghanistan from 2009-2010. Eager, cowboy-general moves in to take the town; reality rears its head and upends his path to glory; and finally, blind narcissism sends him packing. The messages -- about the impossibility of war in situations like modern Afghanistan, Syria, and multitudes of other countries steeped in chaos, and the hopelessness of rallying the locals against who knows who and who knows when, what, and where -- are clear. The tale of one general's self-destructive undoing is worth telling. Still, every character is one-dimensional (Anthony Michael Hall's performance is particularly grating); every situation is expected; and, for those familiar with the real Rolling Stone article, the "Oh My God" factor happened long ago. Too much violence and swearing for kids.
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.