[Screen It]


(2000) (Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Moderate Extreme Moderate Heavy
Mild None Mild None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Heavy Moderate Moderate Moderate Extreme

Drama: Hoping to get on with his life, an ex-con finds himself immersed in trouble once again when he takes a family job working for his uncle with his best friend and ends up becoming entangled in their web of criminal behavior.
Leo Handler (MARK WAHLBERG) is a young man who's just been released from prison after serving sixteen months for auto theft. At a welcome home party, his best friend, Willie Gutierrez (JOAQUIN PHOENIX), thanks Leo for not ratting him out to the authorities, while Willie's girlfriend, Erica Stoltz (CHARLIZE THERON) - who's also Leo's cousin - is just happy to see him. She doesn't feel the same way, however, about her new stepfather, Frank Olchin (JAMES CAAN), who's recently married her mother, Kitty (FAYE DUNAWAY).

With his mother, Val (ELLEN BURSTYN), suffering from a weak heart, Leo wants to keep straight and get on with his life. As such, he hopes that Frank will give him a job working in his commuter rail factory business alongside Willie, but Frank doesn't think that's a good idea. Nonetheless, Leo starts working with Willie who serves as Electric Rail Corp's front man, bribing industry and government officials, much to the chagrin of company rival Hector Gallardo (ROBERT MONTANO), who wants someone at ERC to jump ship and bring down the corrupt company.

When a deal goes bad, a cop, Jerry Rifkin (DAVID ZAYAS) is beaten into a coma, and a yardmaster is knifed to death, Leo suddenly finds himself the patsy and on the run from the both the police and industry insiders, such as Raymond Price (ANDREW DAVOLI). With Frank and industry official Arthur Mydanick (STEVE LAWRENCE) trying to resolve the situation as quickly and quietly as possible, Leo tries to figure out how to clear his name and put his life back in order.

If they're fans of someone in the cast, they might, but otherwise it's not very likely.
For language, violence and a scene of sexuality.
  • MARK WAHLBERG plays a young man who's just been released from prison (for auto theft - although we don't know how involved he was or if he just took the fall for his friends) and then finds himself wrapped up in Frank and Willie's illegal doings. After being beaten by a cop, he then turns around and does the same to that officer, putting him into a coma. He then spends the rest of the movie avoiding the police and trying to get his life back on track. He also uses strong profanity and we learn that he had some sort of relationship with his female cousin when they were fifteen.
  • JOAQUIN PHOENIX plays his best friend who gets him involved in further criminal wrongdoings but then eventually turns on him. He smokes, uses strong profanity and ends up killing several people.
  • CHARLIZE THERON plays his girlfriend and Leo's cousin (with whom she had some sort of relationship when they were fifteen). She smokes and uses some strong profanity (while also sleeping with Willie).
  • JAMES CAAN plays Leo's step-uncle, a powerful, but corrupt businessman in the commuter rail industry. He smokes, uses strong profanity and bribes people while arranging to have others killed.
  • FAYE DUNAWAY plays his wife who's concerned about how things are unfolding in the family.
  • ELLEN BURSTYN plays her sister and Leo's mother, a woman with a weak heart.
  • STEVE LAWRENCE plays a corrupt official who's in cahoots with Frank.


    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 quick summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity is rated as extreme due to the use of more than 60 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also used. Violence consists of several deaths (one from a knifing, another from a fall) and others being wounded (from being shot, hit with a billy club or getting into a fight with another person), some of which have bloody results.

    Such scenes and others may be tense or unsettling to some viewers, and many characters in the film are criminals or are involved in criminal behavior in one way or another. We see a woman's bare breasts as she undresses behind her boyfriend and they then briefly make out before the scene ends. It's also briefly suggested that she and her male cousin were caught in a sexual act when they were fifteen (but we don't see any related footage). Male rear nudity is also seen in a nonsexual context.

    Moments of tense family scenes are present, while various characters smoke and drink. If you're still concerned about the film's appropriateness for anyone in your home, you may want to examine our detailed content listings more closely for specific examples of what occurs in the film.

    For those concerned with the repetitive flashing of bright lights, some strobe like instances of that occur in a scene set in a nightclub.

  • Various people drink at a welcome home party for Leo.
  • People drink at a club.
  • People have wine at a reception.
  • We see some bottles of wine on a table.
  • Erica has some blood from her lip after Willie slapped her while Leo has some blood on his head after fighting Willie.
  • We see a man holding his hand to a bloody gunshot wound to his head.
  • We see some blood next to a person's head after they've fallen to their death from a second story balcony to the floor below.
  • We see some bruises on a cop's face (after he was beaten with a billy club).
  • We learn that Leo just got out of prison after serving sixteen months for auto theft, although we're not sure if he was guilty or just took the rap for his friends, including Willie. He then gets involved with some criminal activity and beats a cop who had just been unnecessarily rough with him.
  • Frank, Willie and most of their associates are all involved in various forms of criminal behavior including kickbacks, bribery and murder.
  • Various family members and friends turn on Leo.
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be tense or unsettling to some viewers.
  • Leo is given the order to take a gun and kill the cop he put in a coma, before that cop comes out of it and can testify. As such, Leo then reluctantly sneaks into a hospital and into that man's room to do just that, but must then contend with people approaching and entering the room.
  • Val appears to be having a heart attack during a police raid (but doesn't die).
  • Leo hears someone trying to get into his mother's place. After moving her to a neighbor's place, he then waits, handgun drawn, while we see someone breaking into and then sneaking through her place, also armed with a handgun.
  • Erica comes home to find Willie waiting for her. Sensing that he's not right in the head, she tries to slowly get away from him, but he grabs and then pins her to the stairs.
  • Knife: Used to stab and kill someone.
  • Handguns: Carried/held and used to threaten or wound others. See "Violence" for details.
  • Billy club: Used by a cop to beat Leo who then uses it on that cop.
  • Shotguns: Carried by police as they storm Val's house looking for Leo.
  • Phrases: "What the f*ck was that?" "What the f*ck are you doing?" "Don't f*cking do it," "F*cked up," "What the f*ck happened?" "He's f*cking dead," "Shut the f*ck up," "You f*cking idiot," "What is f*cking wrong with you?" "Get us the f*ck out of here," "Shut up," "Jerk off" and "Hard ass."
  • A person gives Willie's business associate "the finger."
  • None.
  • A mild amount of suspenseful/ominous music plays in the film.
  • None.
  • At least 64 "f" words (3 used with "mother"), 3 "s" words, 3 asses (2 used with "hole"), 7 uses of "G-damn" and 1 use each of "Jesus," "Jesus Christ" and "My God" as exclamations.
  • A woman at a party shows some cleavage.
  • As Willie makes an illegal business transaction with another man at night, we see him (from a distance) strip down naked, as does the other man (to prove that they're not wired) and we see both of their bare butts.
  • We see Erica's bare breasts as she takes off her top while behind Willie in just her underwear. They then kiss on a bed, but the scene ends there so we don't see anything else.
  • Frank tells Willie that Leo and Erica were caught together (sexually) when they were fifteen (but we don't know to what extent).
  • Both Willie and Erica smoke around five times, while Frank smokes a few times, Leo smokes once and various miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • Various family members argue or are upset with others in the family, including Frank who turns on Leo, his step-nephew.
  • A family grieves over the death of one of its members.
  • The company's use of kickbacks and bribery to stay in business, get contracts and be profitable.
  • Leo's commitment - at least for much of the movie - on not "ratting out" those who've wronged him or been involved in wrongdoings with him.
  • Frank tells Willie that Leo and Erica were caught together (sexually) when they were fifteen (they're cousins).
  • Willis punches a man in a club for dancing with Erica.
  • A group of men appear to be shorting out electrical connections on railway cars as they walk past them.
  • Willie threatens a man with a knife and when that man goes for his gun, Willie stabs him in the gut (we don't see the penetration) and we hear that the man dies from the wound.
  • A cop repeatedly hits Leo with his billy club until Leo hits him in the face and then strikes him over the head with that club. As the cop falls to the tracks unconscious, Leo runs away.
  • Two men get into a scuffle (pushing each other) and have to be separated.
  • After Willie slaps Erica, he and Leo get into a fight (struggling with punches) that takes them down a stairwell and then outside onto the sidewalk where there's more punching and struggling.
  • Leo shoots a man (who broke into his mother's house to kill him) somewhere in the head, as we see the man holding his hand over a bloody wound. Leo then kicks this man, but doesn't kill him.
  • We see some news footage of protesting people struggling with others.
  • Willie grabs and pins Erica to the stairs. Later, he grabs her by the shirt and she tries to push him away and hit him.
  • After struggling with another person, a person accidentally falls over a railing and lands on the floor below, dying from the impact.
  • A cop pushes Willie to the ground while arresting him.

  • Reviewed October 13, 2000 / Posted October 27, 2000

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