This movie is what I call a “soft R,” the rating based on limited bad language and violence, but not really unsuitable for younger kids. Will Smith stars as Bobby Dean, a successful Washington lawyer, who in true thriller fashion is inadvertantly drawn into a paranoid nightmare. An old acquaintence on the run from the CIA drops a computer disk into Dean’s Christmas packages just before he is killed. Dean does not know that he has the disk, much less that the disk proves that CIA operatives killed a senator (an unbilled Jason Robards) because he opposed their plans to expand surveillance. The head of a rogue operation within the CIA (current default bad guy Jon Voight) goes after Dean, who quickly loses his job and his wife, who leaves him after she learns that he has been seeing an old girlfriend. Every aspect of Dean’s life is scrutinized by the CIA and the chase scenes are very exciting, showing their ability to track every move he makes with the use of technology from satillites to to phone logs to tiny tracers in his clothes. Parents should know that there are four-letter words, references to infidelity, and bloody scenes, but fewer than in most R movies. Families may want to talk about the issues raised by balancing the right to privacy with the need for protection.
Teenagers with a taste for the offbeat will enjoy this German import about a woman who gets a frantic phone call from her boyfriend and has only 20 minutes to find 100,000 marks (about $60,000), or he will be killed by the drug dealer to whom he supposed to deliver the money. Lola (Franka Potente) and her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) live in a sort of of punk post-modern demi-mondaine. The key image of the movie is Lola, with her Raggedy Ann mop of bright red hair, running to save her beloved Manni from the drug dealer, and from himself — he has threatened to hold up a store if she cannot get him the money. When she interacts with people on her way — and in her way — we sometimes get glimpses of what their lives ahead will hold.
Lola runs to her father, who works at a bank, to ask him for the money. But he has his own problems. She does not make it in time, and the result is tragic. But Lola’s determination is such that she will not let that happen. All of a sudden, we are back in her apartment and she is getting Manni’s call again. Everything starts over, this time with tiny differences that have huge consequences for Lola and Manni and for the people around them. It takes three tries before Lola’s running is over.
The movie is fun to watch, with a lot of very clever jump cuts and effects, and it can be a nice jolt for kids who are used to pedestrian big-budget film-making. Parents should know that there is some rough street language, references to out-of-wedlock pregnancy and adultery, and that the main characters live on the edge of the underworld — the money Manni leaves on a train belongs to a drug dealer. Families may want to discuss the movie’s theme about the way that the tiniest choices and interactions can have the most wide-reaching consequences.
Families who enjoy this movie will also like “Diva.”