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"DETERRENCE"
(2000) (Kevin Pollak, Timothy Hutton) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
None Heavy Heavy Moderate Heavy
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None Mild None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor Minor Mild Moderate Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Suspense: Stuck in a diner during a snowstorm, the President of the U.S. reacts to an aggressive, foreign military move by threatening to retaliate with a nuclear bomb and must then not only deal with their reaction, but also his and others' second guessing of his strategy.
PLOT:
It's 2008 and Walter Emerson (KEVIN POLLAK), the incumbent President of the United States, is trying to make his way out of Colorado after that state's primary. Unfortunately, a raging snowstorm results in him and his entourage, including Chief of Staff Marshall "Marsh" Thompson (TIMOTHY HUTTON) and National Security Advisor Gayle Redford (SHERYL LEE RALPH), seeking shelter in a greasy spoon diner in Aztec, Colorado.

Having been appointed after the death of the former President, Emerson is faced with criticism about not being an elected leader, but his victory in the primary raises his and his team's spirits. As such, he's happy to "press the flesh" with the few people in the diner, including its owner, Harvey (BADJA DJOLA), and French Canadian waitress, Katie (CLOTILDE COURAU), as well as a local redneck, Ralph (SEAN ASTIN) and a married couple, Lizzie (KATHRYN MORRIS) and Taylor Woods (MICHAEL MANTELL) who are passing time there playing chess.

The happiness quickly ceases, however, when a TV broadcast indicates that Uday Hussein, the current Iraqi dictator and son of Saddam Hussein, has sent his troops pouring into Kuwait, prepared to overrun Saudi Arabia and use various weapons on Israel. While that growing international crisis is bad enough, the U.S. military's conventional forces are stuck in other international hotspots, and the fact that the Iraqi forces also killed several hundred Americans in an U.N. unit only makes matters worse.

Stranded at the diner, Emerson springs into action, contacting his many advisors over secured satellite relay phones. Then, making a bold move and utilizing the network camera crew that's been following his campaign trail, he goes on the air live, addressing everyone around the world. It's during this address that Emerson gives the Iraqi leader an ultimatum - withdraw the troops or face a nuclear strike on Baghdad.

With only ninety or so minutes to spare, Emerson orders the bomber to head for Iraq. From that point on, he must contend not only with that foreign country's reactions to this threat, but also his, his staff's and the similarly stuck civilians' second guessing of his strategy.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
The "Failsafe" type plot might be of interest to some teens, while the cast may draw kids who are fans of anyone in it.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language and violence
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • KEVIN POLLAK plays the incumbent President of the United States who's trying to win the upcoming election. He's also forced to make difficult decisions regarding an international crisis that includes putting millions of people's lives in danger. He briefly uses strong profanity and carries around a cigar (that he smokes just once).
  • TIMOTHY HUTTON plays the President's Chief of Staff who always wants to make sure the President does and says the right thing. He uses some strong profanity.
  • SHERYL LEE RALPH plays the National Security Advisor who questions the President's decisions and decision-making, playing a sort of devil's advocate/voice of reason character.
  • BADJA DJOLA plays the diner owner and short order cook who doesn't agree with the President's decision and tries to take matters into his own hands by shooting and killing someone else.
  • CLOTILDE COURAU plays the diner's waitress who briefly uses some strong profanity.
  • SEAN ASTIN plays the local redneck who uses strong profanity and has bad attitudes about anyone who's not a white redneck like him.
  • KATHRYN MORRIS plays a married woman who's fascinated by what transpires, but is worried about her young child and briefly uses strong profanity.
  • MICHAEL MANTELL plays her often bitter and irritated husband who doesn't like the President or how things are unfolding.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated suspense/thriller. Profanity is listed as extreme due to the use of more than 20 "f" words, while other profanities and some colorful phrases are also uttered. Violence consists of two characters being shot and killed (with bloody results), while unseen violence includes many people/soldiers being killed in wartime violence.

    Those scenes, the events leading up to them, and pretty much most of the film's second half may be suspenseful to viewers in varying degrees. Similarly, while some of the characters have obvious bad attitudes toward others, some character's actions and decisions are more open to interpretation and debate regarding what they indicate.

    Beyond that and some brief, archival footage of war victims (including some rather gruesome images), the rest of the film's categories are mostly void of any other major objectionable material. Nonetheless, should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may wish to take a closer look at our more detailed content listings.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • None.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see brief black and white footage of a Hiroshima victim with skin lesions/burns and later see what are presumably several dead and quite charred Iraqi soldiers.
  • Two people who are shot are rather bloody, with one being surrounded by blood splatter in the kitchen.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Ralph has both types of attitudes toward anyone who's not a white redneck like him. As such, he makes references to "Japs," "Spics," "Sand niggers" and other derogatory terms that he (and his non-present buddy) use to describe others.
  • Ralph insults Harvey and his cooking.
  • Although we don't visually witness any of the events, the Iraqi dictator and his troops obviously have both types of attitudes for invading another country and killing many U.N. soldiers.
  • Depending on their viewpoint and how things eventually play out in the film, viewers may or may not find Emerson's decision to bomb Baghdad as showing a bad attitude.
  • As translated by an agent, we hear that an Iraqi official states that he won't negotiate with a Jew (Emerson).
  • Some viewers may not like Emerson stating that all Presidents have to become atheists when they run the White House (since they have to make complicated decisions with possibly bad consequences, etc.).
  • We learn that the French sold nuclear weapons to Iraq, but later learn the explanatory reasons behind that action.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • From the point that Emerson makes the threat of nuking Baghdad until the end of the movie, a growing sense of unease and suspense slowly overtakes the proceedings (especially as time wears down to the anticipated bombing and expected retaliation).
  • We hear a gunshot and then see that a character has shot and killed a soldier in the diner (his front is bloody). The special agents then aim their guns at this character who refuses to drop his shotgun and we then see them repeatedly firing at the man (we don't see the impact - but do then see his dead and rather bloody body as well as blood splattered around the kitchen, not to mention a brief moment where the dead assailant's face lies on a hot griddle).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Guns/Tanks/Fighter planes: Seen in news/archival TV footage.
  • Shotgun/Handguns: Briefly used in a gunfire exchange resulting in two people being shot and killed.
  • Nuclear bombs/missiles: Dropped/fired on others (while we don't see the impact, thousands or millions are presumably killed).
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Shut the f*ck up," "Ape sh*t," "Get the hell out," "Balls" (testicles), "Bastard," "Bitch of a situation," "Busting ass," "Freakin'," "Fag" and "Dirty ass."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A mild amount of dramatically suspenseful music plays on several occasions during the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 24 "f" words (3 used with "mother"), 10 "s" words, 3 slang terms using male genitals ("c*cks*cker" and "d*ck"), 10 hells, 3 asses, 3 S.O.B.s (2 said as the abbreviation), 1 crap, 1 damn and 5 uses of "Jesus," 2 of "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "G-damn," "Jesus Christ," "Oh Jesus" and "By God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • The chess pieces used by Lizzie and Taylor seem to have the appearance of miniature, old Roman statues of nude men.
  • Harvey mentions reading about Gayle in "a girlie magazine" (Playboy), but we never see it.
  • SMOKING
  • Emerson carries or has an unlit cigar in his mouth at various times during the film, but it's not until near the very end that he finally lights it.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Emerson talks to his wife and daughter on the phone (knowing the consequences his actions may have on them, and with his wife pleading for him not to follow through on his threat).
  • Believing the end of the world to be nearing, the Woods talk to their child on the phone.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The President's decision to threaten to nuke Baghdad and whether that was a wise or proper form of deterrence considering the situation in which he found himself and his military options.
  • Whether religion had anything to do with the President's decision (since he's Jewish).
  • VIOLENCE
  • Although we don't witness it, we hear that the Iraqi forces overran and killed hundreds of U.N. soldiers.
  • We hear a gunshot and then see that a character has shot and killed a soldier in the diner (his front is bloody). The special agents then aim their guns at this character who refuses to drop his shotgun and we then see them repeatedly firing at the man (we don't see the impact - but do then see his dead body with bloody bullet holes in his apron as well as blood splattered around the kitchen, not to mention a brief moment where the dead assailant's face lies on a hot griddle.
  • Although we don't see the impact, thousands or millions of people are killed and plenty of property is destroyed from a nuclear blast.
  • We see brief black and white footage of a Hiroshima victim with skin lesions/burns and later see what are presumably several dead and quite charred Iraqi soldiers (both the result of wartime violence).



  • Reviewed January 24, 2000 / Posted March 17, 2000

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