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(2000) (Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger) (R)

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Drama/Action: After a British officer kills one of his children, a reluctant American colonist and war veteran joins forces with the American militia to battle the British during the Revolutionary War.
It's 1776 and Benjamin Martin (MEL GIBSON) is an American colonist and recent widower trying to raise his seven children on his South Carolina estate. A veteran of the French and Indian War with a troubled past that still haunts him, Martin believes that King George's taxation without representation policy is wrong, but wants nothing to do with supporting a revolutionary war with the British.

Even so, a South Carolina assembly votes to have their state join the rebellion and Martin is unable to stop his oldest son, Gabriel (HEATH LEDGER) from enlisting. Hoping that his good friend and fellow war veteran Col. Harry Burwell (CHRIS COOPER) will watch over his son, Martin returns to his plantation and tries to get on with raising his family.

Yet, the forces under Gen. Cornwallis (TOM WILKINSON) soon take Charleston and the war looms closer. When a wounded Gabriel stumbles home and a battle literally breaks out in his front yard, Martin realizes he won't be able to escape the war. That becomes even more true when Col. William Tavington (JASON ISAACS) arrives and captures Gabriel, orders him to be hanged, and then shoots one of Martin's other sons as he tries to intervene.

Shocked and grieving over the sudden turn of events, Martin goes into warrior mode, and with the help of his two younger sons, ambushes a British unit and rescues Gabriel. Sending the rest of his kids to a plantation run by his sister-in-law, Charlotte Selton (JOELY RICHARDSON), Martin takes up arms against the British and is given command of the local militia. With the aid of French officer Jean Villeneuve (TCHEKY KARYO) who's been sent to teach the units about guerilla style warfare, Martin begins recruiting his old war buddies, such as John Billings (LEON RIPPY).

Meanwhile, Gabriel visits the hometown of his sweetheart, Anne Howard (LISA BRENNER), and gets various men to join the militia, including the town's priest, Rev. Oliver (RENE AUBERJONOIS). Rejoining forces, the father & son-led militia soon begin ambushing the British troops, singling out the officers to be the first targets. When Martin briefly meets and then fools Cornwallis into releasing a group of rebel prisoners, the enraged general gives Tavington permission to do whatever it takes - no matter the moral implications - to find and stop Martin and his activities. With the tide continually turning in the war, Tavington then sets out to do just that, hoping to preempt Martin and his men's attempts at preventing Cornwallis and the British troops from moving north through the young country.

If they're fans of Gibson, someone else in the cast, or of films dealing with the Revolutionary War, they just might.
For strong war violence.
  • MEL GIBSON plays an 18th century war veteran, family man and recent widow who's initially against supporting a war with the British (although he doesn't support their actions/policies). Once tragedy pushes him into the war, however, he becomes a lethal fighting machine, occasionally using brutal force to kill the enemy while helping lead his country to freedom.
  • HEATH LEDGER plays his patriotic son who goes against his father's wishes and enlists in the American military.
  • JOELY RICHARDSON plays Martin's comely sister-in-law who watches over and protects his kids, shows a great deal of period cleavage and evidently become romantically involved with him later in the proceedings.
  • JASON ISAACS plays a despicable, ruthless and barbaric British officer who callously kills many innocent people during the course of the War.
  • CHRIS COOPER plays one of the American officers and a good friend of Martin's.
  • TCHEKY KARYO plays a French officer sent to help the American militia learn how to fight the British.
  • RENE AUBERJONOIS plays a local reverend who joins the militia.
  • LISA BRENNER plays a young woman whom Gabriel falls for.
  • TOM WILKINSON plays General Cornwallis, a dignified, but pompous British officer who eventually breaks his own code of "dignified" warfare by allowing Tavington to do whatever it takes to find and stop Martin.


    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).

    The following is a summary of the content found in this R-rated drama/action film. Being a picture about the Revolutionary War, there are many battle scenes where many people are wounded or killed (often with bloody or graphic wounds) via gunfire, cannon fire or hand to hand combat (people being stabbed and/or hit with tomahawks, knives, bayonets, swords, etc.).

    Such scenes, and others (as accompanied by suspenseful and/or action-oriented music), may also be unsettling or suspenseful to viewers, especially those scenes concerning innocent people being killed. The result of such warfare and related violence and death also leads to many tense family scenes where people grieve over the deaths of their loved ones.

    Those responsible for such atrocities obviously have bad attitudes (as do the rest of the British as historically portrayed here), while other characters have varying degrees of the same. Profanity consists of several "hells" and "damns," while a handful of mild colorful phrases also occur.

    Beyond that, some characters drink and smoke, while some brief kissing occurs (along with some slightly implied hanky panky between a young man and woman - despite him being sewn inside a "bundling" sack intended to prevent that from happening). Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for anyone in your home who wishes to see it, you may want to examine our detailed content listings in greater detail.

  • Martin pours himself a drink.
  • Some men in an inn/pub drink what's presumably ale or beer.
  • A militiaman suggests that they drink some of Cornwallis' wine that they've just intercepted.
  • Martin has some wine.
  • Various British officers and dignitaries, including Tavington, have drinks at some sort of reception/party.
  • Various militiamen drink wine.
  • Martin briefly mentions being drunk several times in the past.
  • Tavington pours himself a drink.
  • We see some blood squirt out from bullet hole wounds, as well as some on Gabriel's hands. We then see a brief shot of frozen bodies lying on the ground during the winter.
  • We see some blood on Gabriel's hand and later a bloody gash on his chest that Martin tends to.
  • We see various bloody and wounded people on Martin's porch.
  • After being shot in the back, blood can be seen on both sides of a boy's shirt.
  • Various soldiers & officers who are shot are bloody and/or have blood squirt out from their wounds during an ambush. During this, we see a tomahawk land in a man's face and Martin is then covered in blood after repeatedly hacking an enemy to pieces (that part isn't directly seen).
  • More people who are shot have bloody wounds and/or blood squirting out and splattering others.
  • A bouncing cannonball decapitates a man.
  • In a field hospital, we see a knife being taken to a person's bloody leg to amputate it (but the camera is just passing by that scene).
  • More wounded and/or dead people have bloody wounds or blood squirting out during various skirmishes.
  • More people who are shot or otherwise wounded and killed are bloody.
  • During a full-scale battle, many more people are bloody or have blood squirt out from their wounds, and we see a rapidly rolling cannonball that rips off a person's lower leg.
  • Two men who fight each other have bloody wounds, with the defeated having blood run from his mouth upon his death.
  • The British obviously have both for taxing the colonists without allowing them representation, and then for fighting them, along with slaughtering innocent people and burning their homes and property.
  • Among them is the mean and vindictive Col. Tavington who nonchalantly kills one of Martin's sons and later kills many innocent people while trying to find information on Martin's whereabouts.
  • Martin jokingly makes some disparaging remarks about the French until he sees that Villeneuve is in the room, and later appreciates that man and his country's help.
  • A white man is initially demeaning to a slave who joins the militia, but later changes his opinion and attitude toward him.
  • Martin and others kill British forces that have just surrendered. After Gabriel reprimands them for that, Martin orders that they change their ways (to treating prisoners humanely).
  • Cornwallis changes his mode of civilized fighting and allows Tavington to do whatever it takes to find Martin (in exchange for becoming a landowner in America after the war).
  • An American loyalist (who supports the King) gives up Charlotte's location to Tavington.
  • A man rats on Martin's whereabouts.
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and/or "Blood/Gore" may also be unsettling, suspenseful or frightening to some viewers (especially the battle scenes).
  • A wounded but initially unidentifiable man walks into Martin's home towards his family. Martin aims his musket at him, but then realizes that it's Gabriel.
  • Martin and his family see a large number of British forces approaching his home and family. Moments later, Tavington aims his musket at Martin and then his family, eventually shooting and fatally wounding one of Martin's sons.
  • Tavington, who's been given permission to do whatever it takes to find Martin, heads off for Charlotte's plantation. Seeing the men approaching, she hides the children except for one who must then hide under the dining room table while Tavington walks around it.
  • Many people find themselves locked inside a church that's then set on fire by the British (they all die, although we only see some initial panicking).
  • The last battle sequence, which includes Tavington and Martin fighting in hand to hand combat (sword vs. tomahawk, etc. and one preparing to behead the other) may be rather suspenseful to some viewers.
  • Rifles/Muskets/Canons/Knives/Swords/Tomahawk/Bayonets: Used to threaten, wound or kill many people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Various guns: Used by colonists to shoot into the air in celebration.
  • Phrases: "Hell no" and "To hell with you."
  • Colonists fire their guns into the air in protest/celebration and burn hanged effigies of British officials.
  • After complaining that Gabriel put ink into her tea sometime in the past (that turned her teeth black for a month), Anne later does the same to him (and we then see his black teeth).
  • A presumably severely wounded or dead man suddenly stabs another man.
  • A heavy amount of suspenseful and action-oriented music occurs during the film.
  • None.
  • At least 9 damns, 5 hells and 1 use each of "My God" and "My Lord" occur as exclamations.
  • Charlotte shows a great deal of cleavage in most of the period outfits she wears throughout the film.
  • Mr. Howard, who can't hear that well (or feigns having that problem), eventually understands Gabriel's question about writing to Ann and says, "Oh, to write her" (with the audience joke then being that perhaps he was thinking Gabriel was asking if he could "ride your daughter").
  • With Gabriel spending the night at their house, the Howards sew him up ("bundling") into a sleeping bag style sack (supposedly to prevent him from fooling around with their adult daughter, Anne). Mrs. Howard then tells her husband not to worry since she sews better than her mother did, causing Mr. Howard to say that he hopes so. The next day (and after Anne put ink into Gabriel's tea as retribution for him doing the same to her sometime earlier) we see that her teeth are as black as his, suggesting that they were at least kissing.
  • Martin and Charlotte passionately kiss.
  • Some men in an inn/pub smoke pipes and one man appears to spit out some chewing tobacco (or something similar).
  • We see/learn that Martin is a widower and that one of his daughters hasn't spoken a word since her mother's death.
  • Martin sees one of his sons be murdered in front of him, and later laments that he's losing his family.
  • Throughout the rest of the film, various characters lose their loved ones or talk about having lost them in the past.
  • There's some tension at first between Martin and Gabriel over the latter enlisting and the former not supporting the war.
  • Martin's young daughter, Susan, states that she hates her father and hopes that he never comes back. When he eventually does, she recoils and then runs away from him, but later eventually makes up with him.
  • The historical accuracy of the events portrayed in the film, as well as the overall Revolutionary War (the reasons for it, the battles, the outcome, etc.) and the way in which battles were fought back then (with opposing forces just marching right up to one another before firing, etc.).
  • Martin's initial reluctance to join the militia, but his later decision to do just that (and the vengeance he takes out on the British).
  • Martin having his young sons shoot and kill British officers and soldiers during an ambush (so as to free their brother) and the sons' reaction to doing that (and Martin saying that they did nothing wrong since they were just following his orders).
  • Martin throws a homemade rocking chair (or what's left of it after it's broken) into a corner (where we see other chairs that have met similar demises).
  • We see various shots of opposing forces standing in line and firing at one another, with men on both sides falling to the ground, wounded or dead (with some blood).
  • From a distance, we see the sights and hear the sounds of a battle off in the distance at night (as well as more people falling to the ground wounded or dead).
  • One of Martin's sons rushes some British soldiers who have Gabriel, knocking them aside. Tavington then shoots and mortally wounds that son. The troops then burn Martin's home and shoot wounded rebel soldiers.
  • Martin and his third and fourth son ambush a British unit in the woods, shooting and wounding/killing many of them before they get the chance to fire back (although others later do fire back). Martin then moves in and starts fighting with them close up, hitting many of them with his tomahawk while a soldier hits Gabriel who's bound to the back of a wagon. As the kids shoot more soldiers, Martin continues to strike others with his tomahawk (one to the face) and then sees a soldier holding a knife to Gabriel's throat. Martin then throws his tomahawk that lands in the man's face. He then throws a knife into a fleeing man's back and then proceeds to hack him to bits until he's covered in blood (the actual impact of the hacking isn't seen).
  • From a distance, we see lines of the opposing forces firing at each other (with more men falling to the ground wounded or dead) and then see more close-up action of the same with people being hit by enemy fire (with blood squirting out/splattering others) and Tavington appearing to strike people with his sword.
  • A bouncing cannonball decapitates a man.
  • Gabriel rides up to a church where he sees three bodies hanging from a tree.
  • Some men in an inn/pub throw various items at Martin and Villeneuve (including a knife that sticks in the door).
  • More soldiers are shot (and wounded or killed with bloody wounds and/or blood squirting out) during various ambushes (where Martin slices others) and a wagon explodes in one of them.
  • Martin and others kill British forces who've just surrendered.
  • A British supply ship explodes in a harbor.
  • During an ambush gone bad, many of Martin's forces are shot by the British (some of which are also shot). We later hear that 22 of the militiamen were killed.
  • Tavington's men shoot several people and burn Charlotte's plantation.
  • One of the militiamen finds his house burned and his wife and young son murdered on the ground.
  • A man commits suicide with a gunshot to the head.
  • Tavington orders that a church full of people be burned (and it is, killing all of those who were locked inside it - we only see their initial panicking and then the smoldering ruins).
  • Gabriel and others attack a small group of British, and by the end of the skirmish (that involves shootings and stabbings/slicing), only one person walks away alive.
  • In a several minute, full-scale battle scene, lines of opposing forces fire upon each other, dropping many men on both sides (wounded or killed) with bloody results (including a rapidly rolling/bouncing cannonball that rips off a person's lower leg). Cannon fire then hits various soldiers/militiamen and the forces then engage in hand to hand combat (hitting people with rifles, running others through with bayonets, striking others with swords and knives, etc.) with more people being wounded or killed with more bloody results. During this, Tavington kills many people, as do Villeneuve and Martin, the latter of which also seemingly impales a horse to throw its rider.
  • Two men fight in hand-to-hand combat, trying to hit each other with their swords, knives and/or tomahawk. Both are injured and one is finally killed (by being stabbed in the gut and then having a bayonet run through the throat - the latter is heard more than it's seen).

  • Reviewed June 21, 2000 / Posted June 28, 2000

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