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Unforgiven | 1992 | R | - 3.6.5

unforgiven parent movie review

SEX/NUDITY 3 - In the opening scene, a man and woman are shown having "mechanical" sex, in a brothel. They are partially dressed. Women of the brothel are shown in undergarments of the period. No nudity.

VIOLENCE/GORE 6 - In the first scene, a woman gets cut on the face several times. Very little is shown, but the sound of slicing is audible. Richard Harris is kicked repeatedly until bloody. Morgan Freeman is whipped with a bull-whip while strapped to the bars of a jail cell. Clint Eastwood is kicked and punched until he can no longer stand. Several people are shot and are shown bleeding. Violence is not cartoonish; it is shown with great realism.

LANGUAGE 5 - The F-word is used once, and some scattered foul language.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Death, violence, prostitution and the complexity of killing: For money, honor or any other noble or ignoble cause.

MESSAGE - You really can't teach an old dog new tricks.

unforgiven parent movie review

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated , Special , Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.

unforgiven parent movie review

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THE ASSIGNED NUMBERS Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY , VIOLENCE/GORE & LANGUAGE on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest depending on quantity & context | more |


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unforgiven parent movie review


What You Need To Know:

In his film, UNFORGIVEN, Client Eastwood transforms the heroic Western into an ironic tale about a killer who can't escape his past. Set in Big Whisky, Wyoming, in the late 1800's, UNFORGIVEN follows the exploits of a killer who tried to settle down, but returns to his craft to gain the reward offered for avenging the mutilation of a prostitute's face. UNFORGIVEN portrays a depressing, existential world, where man is at the mercy of hostile forces which force him to commit heinous crimes to survive. Not only does this portrait of the Old West demean history, it also fails as entertainment for want of a satisfying climax.

(LLL, VVV, SSS, A, H, M) 58 obscenities & 17 profanities; excessive violence (a woman's face is slashed repeatedly with a knife, frequent shootings (many in cold blood), beatings, kickings, etc.); fornication, sexual immorality (story revolves around Old West brothel) and semi-nudity; drinking & drunkenness; revisionist history; and, revenge motif.

More Detail:

In his film, UNFORGIVEN, Client Eastwood transforms the heroic Western into an ironic tale about a killer who can’t escape his past. Set in Big Whisky, Wyoming, in the 1800’s, UNFORGIVEN opens in a brothel where a cowboy slashes a prostitute’s face while his friend watches. When Little Bill, the sheriff, merely reprimands the culprits, the prostitutes raise money to avenge the crime. The “Scofield Kid” contacts William Munny, a killer who has settled down, to join him in the bounty hunt. Munny does so reluctantly having promised his late wife that his killing days were over. On the way, he picks up his partner, Ned. When they arrive, Little Bill beats Munny mercilessly. After Munny recovers, he kills one of the cowboys. Little Bill’s men catch Ned and whip him to death. Meanwhile, the Kid kills the slasher. When Munny finds out about Ned, he takes on the sheriff and his cohorts.

UNFORGIVEN portrays a hopeless, depressing, existential world, where man is at the mercy of hostile forces which force him to commit heinous crimes to survive. Though this portrait of the Old West demeans history, it does capture the despair of those modern humanists who are truly without hope. Ultimately, UNFORGIVEN fails as entertainment for want of a satisfying climax. Eastwood fans who are expecting a cathartic experience will only find despair.

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Review/Film: Unforgiven; A Western Without Good Guys

By Vincent Canby

  • Aug. 7, 1992

unforgiven parent movie review

TIME has been good to Clint Eastwood. If possible, he looks even taller, leaner and more mysteriously possessed than he did in Sergio Leone's seminal "Fistful of Dollars" a quarter of a century ago. The years haven't softened him. They have given him the presence of some fierce force of nature, which may be why the landscapes of the mythic, late 19th-century West become him, never more so than in his new "Unforgiven."

As written by David Webb Peoples and directed by Mr. Eastwood, "Unforgiven" is a most entertaining western that pays homage to the great tradition of movie westerns while surreptitiously expressing a certain amount of skepticism. Mr. Eastwood has learned a lot from his mentors, including the great Don Siegel ("Two Mules for Sister Sara" and "The Beguiled," among others), a director with no patience for sentimentality.

The time is the 1880's. The principal setting is Big Whiskey, a forlorn hamlet in that vast American no-man's land of high plains edged by mountains, somewhere between St. Louis and San Francisco but not on any map.

Late one night a couple of cowboys are on the second floor of the saloon with the girls. Suddenly one of the cowboys whips out his knife and slashes the face of Delilah, the prostitute he's with. It seems that she made a rude comment about his anatomy. Instead of arresting the cowboys, Little Bill Daggett, the sheriff, allows them to get off with the understanding that they hand over six horses to the saloon keeper.

Strawberry Alice, the victim's best friend, is outraged. "We may be whores," she says, "but we aren't horses." Alice, Delilah and the other girls pool their savings and offer a bounty of $1,000 to anybody who will murder the cowboys.

Thus "Unforgiven" becomes an epic about the revenge of whores. It's not sending up the women. Rather it's equating Old Western codes of honor with the handful of men who set out to collect the bounty, motivated in varying degrees by economic necessity, greed and half-baked notions of glory.

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Film Review: ‘Unforgiven’

By Todd McCarthy

Todd McCarthy

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“ Unforgiven ” is a classic Western for the ages. In his 10th excursion into the genre that made him a star more than 25 years ago, Clint Eastwood has crafted a tense, hard-edged, superbly dramatic yarn that is also an exceedingly intelligent meditation on the West, its myths and its heroes. With its grizzled cast of outstanding actors playing outlaws who have survived their primes, this is unapologetically a mature, contemplative film, with all that implies for B.O. prospects. But buffs, longtime Eastwood fans and connoisseurs of the form should love it, resulting in good word-of-mouth and sustained business through Labor Day and possibly beyond.

Eastwood has dedicated the film “to Sergio and Don,” references to his most important mentors, Sergio Leone and Don Siegel, and it is easy to see why. Not only is the salute a tip of the hat to the directors who presumably taught him the most, but it signals his intention to reflect upon the sort of terse, tough, hard-bitten characters he became famous for in their pictures, as he plays a man described as being “as cold as the snow.”

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From one angle, Eastwood’s Bill Munny can be seen as a hypothetical portrait of the Man With No Name in his sunset years. A widower with two young kids whose late wife “cured me of drink and wickedness,” Munny has nothing to show for wayward youth except a decrepit pig farm.

But when a hotshot by the name of the “Schofield Kid” (Jaimz Woolvett) turns up offering to split a $1,000 reward being offered for the hides of two men who grue- somely sliced up a prostitute, Munny reluctantly straps on his holster for the first time in more than a decade in order to earn the much-needed loot.

To the Kid’s annoyance, Munny insists upon bringing along his former partner-in-crime Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman), who is living peaceably on a farm.

Beating this group to their destination of Big Whiskey is railroad gunman English Bob (Richard Harris), an arrogant mythomaniac and rabid monarchist traveling with a biographer (Saul Rubinek) who memorializes his bloody accomplishments in dime novels.

Outlaws and bounty hunters around Big Whiskey face a problem by the name of Sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman), a brutal former badman who allows no one to carry firearms in town.

As storm clouds gather, the bounty-hunting trio makes its way toward town, with Munny continually rejecting his past even as he rides to his destiny with it. Resolution to the leisurely but tightly wound drama comes not in an expected, standard showdown, but much more complexly, in a series of separate confrontations that are alternately tragic and touching. Final shots, which have the survivor of the climactic bloodbath riding off, not into the sunset, but into a nocturnal downpour, constitute a hauntingly poetic variation on the usual Western fadeout.

Eastwood’s telling of this grim, compelling tale is at least as impressive as in his best prior outings as a director — “The Outlaw Josey Wales,””Bird” and “White Hunter, Black Heart.”

But the acting ensemble is stronger than in any of Eastwood’s previous pix, and David Webb Peoples’ beautifully crafted, resonant screenplay has inspired the filmmaker to develop fully several themes that have run throughout his work, which is what finally puts “Unforgiven” on such a high level in its genre.

The dilemma of the outlaw whose infamous past makes it hard for him to put down his guns has cropped up in many films, notably “The Gunfighter,” but Eastwood and Peoples’ approach is bracingly anti-mythic and anti-heroic, as well as disarmingly humorous.

As he comes ever closer to his rendezvous with Sheriff Daggett and his former self, he becomes increasingly physically ill until he faces up to what he has to do. Along the way, Munny teaches the Kid a few things about what it means to shoot someone. After the countless people Eastwood characters have gunned down over the years, the pain and difficulty invested in each killing here lends them an extraordinary and profound weight.

Recurring Eastwood themes involving humiliation and physical pain are present, and a strong feminist streak runs through the center of the story, as it is a close-knit group of hookers who defy Sheriff Daggett in the first place and put up the reward money for their mutilated co-worker.

For once, Eastwood has surrounded himself with an ensemble cast of top-drawer actors, with terrific results. Playing a stubbly, worn-out, has-been outlaw who can barely mount his horse at first, Eastwood, unafraid to show his age, is outstanding in his best clipped, understated manner. Hackman deliciously realizes the two sides of the sheriff’s quicksilver personality, the folksy raconteur and the vicious sadist.

Freeman, whose race is never remarked upon by the other characters even though the Kid clearly resents him, poignantly portrays a man whose loyalty to his old partner wars with his common sense, and Harris has a high old time looking mean and menacing and ranting about the uncivilized nature of democracy. Other performances are solid down the line.

Technically, film is superior. Vet production designer Henry Bumstead has designed a distinctive old Western town, and lenser Jack N. Green’s widescreen images have a natural, unforced beauty that imaginatively make use of the mostly flat expanses of the Alberta locations. Lennie Niehaus’ lovely score is mournful and melodious.

The richness of the material fully merits the extended, expert treatment accorded it, and anyone with a taste for Western films and the myths born on the frontier will have a feast with “Unforgiven.”

  • Production: A Warner Bros. release of a Malpaso production. Produced, directed by Clint Eastwood. Executive producer, David Valdes. Screenplay, David Webb Peoples.
  • Crew: Camera (Technicolor, Panavision widescreen), Jack N. Green; editor, Joel Cox; music, Lennie Niehaus; production design, Henry Bumstead; art direction, Rick Roberts, Adrian Gorton; set design, James J. Murakami; set decoration, Janice Blackie-Goodine; sound (Dolby), Rob Young; associate producer, Julian Ludwig; assistant director, Scott Maitland; casting, Phyllis Huffman, Stuart Aikins (Canada). Reviewed at Warner Bros. studios, Burbank, June 24, 1992. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 130 min.
  • With: Bill Munny - Clint Eastwood Little Bill Daggett - Gene Hackman Ned Logan - Morgan Freeman English Bob - Richard Harris The "Schofield Kid" - Jaimz Woolvett W.W. Beauchamp - Saul Rubinek Strawberry Alice - Frances Fisher Delilah Fitzgerald - Anna Thomson Quick Mike - David Mucci Davey Bunting - Rob Campbell Skinny Dubois - Anthony James

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By Peter Travers

Peter Travers

In a directorial high-wire act on a par with Bird and White Hunter, Black Hear t, Clint Eastwood explodes his iconic Man With No Name. It’s an artfully wicked vengeance. Unforgiven is the most provocative western of Eastwood’s career, and with Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris along for the ride, it’s also the most potently acted. But Eastwood’s sixteenth film as a director is best understood as demythology. He’s had a hell of a time shaking the Terminator-on-horseback image he created in the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns of the Sixties, starting with A Fistful of Dollars. He came closest in 1976 by directing and starring in The Outlaw Josey Wales, about a brutal avenger who wins back his humanity. Now, in Unforgiven – which darkens and deepens the themes developed in Josey Wales – Eastwood dissects an aging outlaw’s struggle to make his redemption stick. The film is brutally comic in debunking the faux heroics that made Eastwood a star and also politically timely in showing how past sins can wreak havoc on the best intentions.

Looking creaky and weathered, Eastwood (he’s sixty-two) plays William Munny, a Kansas hog farmer, circa 1880, who gave up train robbing and murder eleven years ago to settle down with a good woman and raise two kids. Now the wife who reformed him is dead, and he needs cash to save the farm and keep his family from homelessness. A braggart called the Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett) dangles a tempting apple: A group of prostitutes in the town of Big Whiskey have offered a bounty of $500 each for the two cowboys who slashed and scarred pretty Delilah (Anna Thomson). Big Whiskey’s sheriff, Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman, in a seductive portrait of evil), let the cowboys off easy, making them pay six horses to the brothel owner to compensate for Delilah’s loss of market value. Outraged at the sexist insult, the hookers – led by Strawberry Alice (the excellent Frances Fisher) – pool their money in a prefeminist call for justice.

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Munny enlists a pal, retired gunman Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman), to join him on the job. But another bounty hunter, English Bob (a wittily florid Richard Harris), accompanied by a sleazy journalist, W.W. Beauchamp (Saul Rubinek), beats them to town. Daggett, once a lawbreaker himself, puts a vicious end to Bob’s plans. That leaves Beauchamp to rely on Daggett for inspiration before Munny arrives for the day of reckoning.

The graying gunfighters of David Webb Peoples’s acutely observant script recall such classic films as John Ford’s Searchers, Howard Hawks’s El Dorado and Sam Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country. But Eastwood, aided by Jack N. Green’s cinematography and Lennie Niehaus’s score, gives the material a singularly rugged and sorrowful beauty. Unforgiven is long (130 minutes) and given to interludes of philosophical musing, but it doesn’t ramble. Eastwood performs with absolute authority; it’s his most deeply felt performance since Tightrope. Munny has stopped using his outlaw muscles. He’s rusty with his gun, his horse and women. When Delilah offers a “free one,” Munny declines with gawky tact.

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It’s the killing that comes hardest. Munny’s clumsiness gets him wounded in action. Even Logan, an expert rifleman, bungles an ambush. Freeman’s sharply expressive performance indicates the character’s aversion to his brutal past. Eastwood, often accused of dodging the consequences of violence in his work, repeatedly shows the pain inflicted by even superficial wounds. In a horrifying scene, the panicky Kid shoots a man who is sitting on a toilet and tries to justify his action by saying the bastard had it coming. “We all have it coming, Kid,” says Munny. It sounds like a Dirty Harry “Make my day” line, but the words cut deep into Munny’s character. When Daggett forces his hand, Munny’s killer instinct overrides his conscience.

In a showdown with the sheriff and his deputies, Munny is transformed into his former self – killing with savage equanimity and balletic grace. He even looks younger and more assured. This is the Eastwood hero the audience once cheered. But Eastwood the filmmaker is no longer cheering. Beauchamp will live to celebrate the legend of William Munny, but no alert viewer will feel the same. Munny’s future, as revealed in a bitterly ironic coda, cleverly turns western tradition on its head. By weighing Munny’s rise to prosperity against his fall from grace, Eastwood gives Unforgiven a tragic stature that puts his own filmmaking past in critical and moral perspective. In three decades of climbing into the saddle, Eastwood has never ridden so tall.

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Unforgiven (United States, 1992)

Clint Eastwood's reputation as a Hollywood icon was founded on two roles: The Man with No Name, who starred in three of Sergio Leone's "Spaghetti Westerns" ( A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good The Bad and the Ugly ), and "Dirty" Harry Callahan, who made five appearances during the 1970s and 1980s. Unforgiven was seen by many as a reaction to (although not a repudiation of) the Dirty Harry character. To some, Dirty Harry was the embodiment of violence without consequences, of a shoot-first, ask-questions-later mentality. Unforgiven , however, approaches gunfights and death from a different vantage point, illustrating that there are real and permanent consequences to violence - consequences that become etched in the mind and the soul.

By the time Eastwood embarked upon making Unforgiven , he was established as a director as well as an actor. He was known as a risk-taker behind the camera, having made such offbeat pictures as Bird and White Hunter Black Heart . Eastwood followed up Unforgiven with the underrated A Perfect World and The Bridges of Madison County . Trying to find a pattern in his choices is like trying to find two identical snowflakes - an exercise in futility but not without its fascination. In fact, few actor/directors have had more versatile careers. Even Woody Allen, who rivals Eastwood when it comes to appearing in his own movies, cannot claim as impressive a resume.

Unforgiven is a Western made in an era when the popularity of Westerns was at a low ebb. Ironically, it became the second Western in three years to win the Best Picture Oscar. The other was Dances with Wolves in 1991. Both Unforgiven and Dances with Wolves , while being fundamentally different motion pictures, share a common quality: they are radically unlike the Westerns of old. Unforgiven looks like a Western. It has many of the conventions of a Western. But it doesn't feel like one. The violence is brutal, the sheriff isn't the good guy, and the story is saturated with moral ambiguity. That's not to say all the Westerns made in the '40s, '50s, and '60s were simplistic, but few evidence the ethical complexity that Eastwood embraces in Unforgiven .

The story opens with two branches that will eventually intersect. They're speeding freight trains on a collision course, although it takes a little while to figure that out. The small town of Big Whiskey is a typical frontier place, with a saloon, a whorehouse, an undertaker, a barbershop, and a few other small businesses. It's lorded over by Sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman), a man who loves two things: the Law and building his house. He has a sadistic streak but is incorruptible. In another movie, he might be the hero, but in Eastwood's view of the world, things aren't that simple. One day, there's an incident at the brothel. A drunk and irate customer repeatedly slashes a prostitute (Anna Thomson) across the face. Little Bill deals out the punishment: as reparation for the damage of "property," the attacker must pay the prostitute's handler a certain number of horses. There's no jail time, no whipping, and no recompense to the injured woman. Her fellow workers pool their money and send out the word that they'll pay $1000 to any assassin who eliminates the offender.

Hundreds of miles away, the former infamous killer and recent widower William Munny (Eastwood) is struggling to raise his two young children by making a living as a farmer. When "The Schofield Kid" (Jaimz Woolvett) arrives looking for a partner to accompany him to Big Whiskey to earn the reward, William is initially reluctant. Later, however, after taking a hard look at his prospects, he changes his mind. He's not the man he once was, but he needs the money. So he recruits his old partner, Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman), and sets off after the Schofield Kid.

While William, Ned, and the Kid are on their way, Unforgiven pauses to provide a side story. Gunslinger English Bob (Richard Harris) arrives in Big Whiskey with his biographer, W.W. Beauchamp (Saul Rubinek), in tow. He's there to deliver justice and collect the reward but Little Bill teaches him about the virtues of obeying the law and the folly of vigilantism. He also provides an object lesson to Beauchamp about the difficulty of killing. Then, to see the record straight, he deconstructs English Bob's legend by revealing some unsavory truths.

Thus are the players and their motivations established. Because the viewer is invited into the story through the viewpoint of William Munny, he is naturally the most sympathetic character. It is important not to forget, however, that he is a seasoned killer who, in his day, murdered women and children in cold blood. And, while Little Bill may have a streak of cruelty running through his veins, he's a man of justice. One of Unforgiven 's assets is the way it overturns conventions, taking the man who is typically the hero and making him the villain, while transforming the traditional bad guy into a sympathetic protagonist. This is much like what Kevin Costner did with Dances with Wolves , where he inverted the "Cowboys and Indians" institution.

Unforgiven is about the price of killing and violence. Munny's soul has been so soiled that one wonders whether he's past the point of redemption. Initially, he fights against being drawn back into his old ways, insisting that "I'm not the same person" but, in the end, he reverts to what he was. For the viewer, who sympathizes with Munny and wants to believe he can change, it's a sad transformation. The climactic gunfight, which in many Westerns would be a moment of triumph, plays out here with a note of sadness and resignation. Meanwhile, there's Ned, who discovers at a critical moment that he can't return to the patterns of old. And The Schofield Kid, who idealizes killing from a far, finds it's less appealing when experienced firsthand. Munny has the film's most memorable quote when he comments: "It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have."

Unforgiven 's acting is first-rate. It earned a Supporting Actor Oscar for Hackman and a Lead Actor nomination for Eastwood. One could argue that both Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris also deserved Supporting Actor consideration. Hackman does an excellent job bringing out the good and the bad in Little Bill, refusing to allow the character to become a one-dimensional antagonist. His standout scene is the one in which he instructs Beauchamp about the real Old West. Eastwood, meanwhile, personifies the weariness of a man of violence who's trying to fight against his nature. A lot of the conflict is internal but we catch enough glimpses of it to know it's going on. We also see the point at which the surrender of the new man to the old one occurs.

The set design and Jack Green's cinematography (both nominated) provide viewers with visual cues they will be conversant with from a genre whose conventions are deeply rooted in American cinema. The dusty, barren streets and ramshackle buildings are necessary to impart a sense of familiarity that the storyline takes pains to deconstruct. Our first views of Big Whiskey establish a set of expectations, re-enforced by the way the town has been erected (on location, not on a set) and the way the early scenes are shot, that are necessary for Unforgiven 's approach to have its full impact. Eastwood chose a veteran crew to work on this film and the resulting technical excellence is visible in every frame.

Despite its dark nature, Unforgiven is sprinkled with humor. Some is of the gallows variety, such as Munny's comment after a shooting: "Well, you sure killed the hell outta that guy." Little Bill refers to English Bob not as the "Duke of Death" but as the "Duck of Death." And Munny repeatedly has trouble mounting his temperamental nag. Moments such as these keep Unforgiven from becoming too grim because, ultimately, this is an unsettling motion picture. Whether or not it represents Eastwood's best work as a director will remain a point of debate. There are plenty of other fine movies in his filmography to rally behind. Two things are clear, however. Unforgiven was one of a few films instrumental in re-shaping the way movie-goers thought of the Western. And none of Eastwood's films did a better job of distancing the actor from his Dirty Harry alter-ego.

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Unforgiven Reviews

  • 85   Metascore
  • 2 hr 11 mins
  • Drama, Action & Adventure
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In this thrilling and provocative revisionist Western, a former gunslinger-turned-farmer agrees to help hunt down two cowboys who assaulted and disfigured a prostitute. However, his quest brings him into conflict with an authoritarian sheriff.

One of Eastwood's finest outings to date, an elegiac western that ironically undermines the conventions of the genre, only to deliver a finale as legendary as the shootout at the O.K. Corral. Wyoming, the 1880s. William Munny (Clint Eastwood) is a former murderer who, transformed by the love of a good woman, gave up a life of indiscriminate killing to raise a family and try his hand at pig farming. With his wife now dead and his farm a failure, Munny is lured back into his old ways by the "Schofield Kid" (Jaimz Woolvett), an aspiring young gunfighter who brings the older man word of a bounty being offered in the frontier town of Big Whiskey. (After a cowboy slashed the face of a prostitute there, the woman's co-workers have offered a reward for the death of the attacker and his accomplice.) Munny refuses the young man's offer of partnership but later reconsiders, teaming up with his old sidekick Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) and setting off to join Schofield. The journey will bring him up against "Little Bill" Daggett (Gene Hackman), the autocratic sheriff of Big Whiskey, as well as forcing him to acknowledge that killing is, in fact, what he does best. It's easy to see why Eastwood was drawn by this script, written by David Webb Peoples (BLADE RUNNER) in the 1970s. Munny is descended in a direct line from Eastwood's two most famous characters: the Man with No Name, from his 60s Westerns with Sergio Leone; and Dirty Harry, the anti-hero of Don Siegel's cop thrillers. Leone's presence is most strongly felt in the revisionist content of UNFORGIVEN, while Siegel's influence is manifest in the film's lean, moody, no-nonsense style. Both of Eastwood's directorial mentors are acknowledged in the film's on-screen dedication, "to Sergio and Don." The West of UNFORGIVEN is a place of few illusions, despite a mythology of heroism symbolized by Beauchamp (Saul Rubinek), a pulp biographer who has written heavily embellished accounts of the life of notorious gunslinger "English Bob" (marvelously played by Richard Harris). At one point, Little Bill ruptures this mythology by telling Beauchamp the inglorious real story behind one of the scenes described in his books--a pattern that is reprised throughout the film, as awe-struck tales of earlier heroes and exploits are undercut by cynical, down-to-earth dismissals. Eastwood as director finally turns this strategy on its head at the film's climax, when Munny pulls off a gunslinging feat of genuinely mythic proportions. As with Leone's masterworks, UNFORGIVEN depicts a West driven solely by forces of commerce, not ideals of freedom or manifest destiny, with killing being Munny's sole marketable skill. Yet, just as Eastwood's occasional efforts to abandon his nihilist screen persona have been inconclusive, so is Munny haunted by his inability to escape the role society has decreed for him. Though he's the only protagonist left standing when the smoke clears, his story is the only one with the status of tragedy, his flaw being his very invincibility. The cast is universally strong. Hackman, Freeman and Harris don't do anything they haven't done before, but the roles suit their personae to a degree where they approach archetypal status. The same applies to Eastwood, who casts himself as part of an ensemble rather than as the conscious star. And that's as it should be. With UNFORGIVEN, Eastwood achieves a new level of authority as a filmmaker and actor who has nothing to prove.

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Unforgiven Reviews

unforgiven parent movie review

... it finally made official what critics and fans had slowly come to realize over the last decade: Clint Eastwood—legendary as both the iconic western drifter with no name and Dirty Harry—was one of America’s best directors.

Full Review | Nov 18, 2023

unforgiven parent movie review

David Webb Peoples’ screenplay skillfully balances the seasoned perspective on the ramifications of violence with the compelling journey of a young gunslinger determined to make a name for himself.

Full Review | Jun 14, 2023

unforgiven parent movie review

It is arguably his [Eastwood] finest achievement, it is certainly his apex as an actor.

Full Review | Dec 7, 2022

unforgiven parent movie review

"They had it coming."

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | May 8, 2022

As great as the script and cinematography are (they are both unassailable), the real magic of Unforgiven is in the performances.

Full Review | Original Score: 9/10 | Apr 17, 2022

unforgiven parent movie review

By embracing the uncertainty behind Munny, the Old West, and American myths, Eastwood elevates a simple story by transcending the genre itself, and transforming his film into great art with the dynamic and compassion that has become his signature.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4 | Mar 2, 2022

unforgiven parent movie review

An astoundingly powerful tale of a strangely anti-Old West, multilayered outlaw, this film is one of the finest revisionist epics ever brought to the big screen.

Full Review | Original Score: 10/10 | Sep 25, 2020

Unforgiven thus rejects Eastwood's previous filmography and the patriotic speeches of many other filmmakers involved with the western. [Full Review in Spanish]

Full Review | May 8, 2020

Arguably the last of the great movie westerns... The real star of the show here is Gene Hackman, playing the psychotic town sheriff who stands in the way of the trio's bounty.

Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5 | Apr 15, 2020

[Eastwood's] best Western -- the most distinguised film he has appeared in and directed -- since The Outlaw Josey Wales.

Full Review | Feb 6, 2020

Eloquent and expansive, Unforgiven is arguably the best film of Eastwood's career-a movie that could well serve as the last word on the western.

Clint Eastwood's brilliant and harrowing Unforgiven packs all the punch of a good Western without indulging in the plot cliches and moral certitudes so often inherent in the genre.

Full Review | Feb 5, 2020

Apart from giving the Western genre a powerful boost Unforgiven does wonders for Eastwood's own profile.

With its unflinching depictions of brutalities, Eastwood's new western calls to mind the work of Sam Peckinpah. But Eastwood's cadences are slow, his antiheros rueful, his atmosphere murky and chilling.

Full Review | Feb 21, 2019

The film has a kind of wise knowingness which may well mislead some people into thinking that its main aim is to debunk the western.

Full Review | Jul 25, 2018

Unforgiven gives us something to think about -- and something to answer for -- and Eastwood was just the man to make it.

Full Review | Apr 26, 2018

[Clint] Eastwood reinvents the western. [Full Review in Spanish]

Full Review | Mar 2, 2018

Impressive, laconic, revisionist western.

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5 | Mar 1, 2018 of the greatest westerns in the history of cinema. [Full Review in Spanish]

Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5 | Feb 28, 2018

It's not a movie for kids, but it's a fine movie for any adult who doesn't mind thinking a little after the hot lead has flown.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Feb 6, 2018

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An in-depth discussion of film

What's so good about Unforgiven (1992)?

So I was wanting to watch a good western film a couple of months ago and I came across Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven. This movie has near unanimous praise and even won best picture but I really didn't like it too much.

Awkward Dialogue: Every scene of dialogue in the movie felt forced and awkward to me. Especially Eastwood's lines felt uncomfortable. They felt cheesy and unemotional. Some scenes were laughably bad IMO. The facial expressions on the characters didn't even really match the situation they were in. Each character felt fake and each actor seemed terrible.

Bland Story: I've seen so many similar stories to this before and this film really brought nothing new. It had some cool shots, sure, but mostly is was just very generic and run of the mill. I also found every character to be very generic. The character who wrote biographies was the only genuinely interesting character. Each plot line ending abruptly and the ending was incredibly silly.

The Chatacters: Nearly every character in this film was a generic western stereotype and I didn't particularly care for any of them. The situations that they were in felt dangerous but none of the characters acted like they cared about anything. It's just so weird to see these characters be so careless about everything. Each character also has a lot of silliness attached to them and I found it so strange. For example, the legendary English Bob was taken down so quickly and it just felt so dumb.

I don't know what I'm missing but this movie seems so terrible to me. What's so amazing about it? Is it just good to people because it resembles old Spaghetti Westerns or what? I will say I'm not old enough to understand this appeal and that could be what I'm missing. Anyone who likes this film? What's so good about it? Please, enlighten me. I would like so much to love this movie.

Unforgiven Review


07 Nov 1992

131 minutes

IF UNFORGIVEN REALLY PROVES TO BE Clint Eastwood's last Western, it's a grand one to ride out on — dark, grip­ping and embracing complex themes, with Eastwood playing weather-beaten William Munny, a one-time killer reformed by the love of a good woman. She's died, leaving him struggling to raise two children on a failing farm, when a young punk turns up with the promise of bounty for the vengeance slaying of two cowboys who mutilated a prosti­tute, an offer which Munny accepts with, misgivings. With his old sidekick Ned (Freeman) making up the trio, they head for bleak Big Whiskey, where the brutal sheriff (Hackman) is somewhat indifferent to the women's demands for justice.

Meanwhile, Richard Harris appears as a flamboyant hired killer, English Bob, to take up the prostitutes' reward himself. Bob is travelling with his own biographer in tow, one of those Eastern journalists who transformed some of the scum of the earth into the libertarian out­law heroes of penny dreadful novellas.

And it is here that the film is at its most fascinating in its revisionist approach to the myths of the Old West, of dashing desperados and daring deeds juxtaposed with the realities as recalled by Munny and Ned, with the discomfort of sleeping on the trail, the misery of riding through rain, the ugly actuality of shooting a man, preferably when he's down. In another sharp contrast, the settings are gorgeous (Alberta, Canada, spectacularly doubling for the Midwestern frontier), while the film is punctuated with grim scenes of horror, from the slashing of the young prostitute to the inevitable last showdown.

Altogether, this is as fine a piece of craftsmanship as one could expect of Eastwood, with Hackman and I Freeman's performances standing out, and given the sombre tone there are entertaining surprises and even some good laughs to be had.

Ironically, however, the element that gives most pause is Eastwood's own problematic character : Munny's pious utterances, his insistence that "I ain't like that any more," and his professed loss of appetite for killing never really ringing true. And when he is eventually roused to blood rage, the result is precisely what one has been waiting for with inappro­priate anticipation, with Munny becoming an amalgam of all the violent avenging riders Eastwood has presented us with in the past. Nevertheless, this is a must-see if one cares whither the Western, and an extremely satisfying one for all Eastwood fans

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Like many people of my approximate age, my childhood was heavily touched and influenced by the work of Jim Henson . I adored the craziness of "The Muppet Show"—which made it stand out from the comparatively bland other things being offered up as children’s entertainment at that time—and found myself relating to a number of the characters on a personal level. The eternally critical Statler & Waldorf and Fozzie Bear possessed an endless array of terrible jokes and an undisguised desire to be loved. My first flesh-and-blood celebrity crush (not counting Veronica from the Archie comics) kicked in during the “Muppet Show” episode in which Kermit the Frog and Linda Ronstadt made goo-goo eyes at each other, much to Miss Piggy 's consternation. 

When “ The Muppet Movie ” came out in the summer of 1979, my parents took me and a group of my friends to see it. We made sure to sit up in the front row—I had heard that there was a scene in which Kermit was seen riding a bicycle. Since my basic knowledge of Muppet physics suggested that such a thing was impossible, I wanted to get a good look and see if I could figure out how they did it. (I didn’t, but that was soon forgotten when, at dinner that night, my dad chose that moment—unconsciously, he claimed—to order frog’s legs for his meal.) And, of course, when it was announced that Henson died on May 16, 1990, of a bacterial infection at the age of 53, it literally felt as if a piece of my childhood had gone with him.

For someone of my generation, the notion of watching a documentary on Henson’s life and work with anything resembling objectivity is an impossibility. Take Ron Howard ’s “Jim Henson: Idea Man,” for example. In many ways, it is a frustrating film—very conventional in its structure, offers little in the way of any new revelations about Henson and his work, and leaves a lot of stuff out that might get in the way of the largely sunny narrative. However, seeing the vast array of archival clips that make up the bulk of the film—both scenes from his various projects as well as behind-the-scenes looks at how they were achieved—is like biting into one of Proust’s madeleine cakes in the way it unlocks one's memories of experiencing Henson’s work for the first time.

If you're a fan of Henson and his legacy, you probably know much of the story presented here. The doc goes from his childhood and first attempts at puppetry (inspired entirely by a desire to work in television) to becoming one of the key figures of the immensely successful “Sesame Street.” A few years later, he decided to spread his artistic wings by creating a new variety show that featuring Kermit the Frog, one of the most beloved of the “Sesame Street” characters, as well as an army of new Muppets, most notably future superstar Miss Piggy. 

Although rejected by all networks, he got an offer to produce the show in London, and it would become one of the most popular shows in the world before leaving the air in 1981. From there, his interest moved to the big screen, both with films featuring familiar Muppet characters (1979’s “The Muppet Movie,” 1981’s “ The Great Muppet Caper ” and 1984’s “ The Muppets Take Manhattan ”) and new creations such as “The Dark Crystal” (1982) and “ Labyrinth ” (1986), received quizzically upon original release but which would go on to become cult favorites.

Watching the various clips, not to mention the recollections of such people as fellow Muppeteer (and future filmmaker) Frank Oz and Jennifer Connelly , who starred in “Labyrinth” when she was just a teenager, is undeniably a lot of fun but as “Jim Henson: Idea Man” goes on, it begins to drift uncomfortably close to hagiography at some points. In recent years, Howard has carved out a second career as a maker of documentaries, covering subjects ranging from Jay-Z (“ Made in America ”), The Beatles (“The Beatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years”), and Luciano Pavarotti (“ Pavarotti ”) to a town attempting to rebuild in the wake of devastating wildfires (“ Rebuilding Paradise ”). This time around, he seems to have a genuine personal affinity for the subject at hand. As a result, he seems hesitant to include anything that might run the risk of affecting the film’s primarily celebratory tone. Maybe a minute of screen time, for example, is dedicated to Henson’s brief association with “Saturday Night Live” during its early days, a clash of comedic sensibilities that did not work out. 

Likewise, although Howard does delve into “The Muppet Movie,” “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth,” he barely mentions the likes of “The Great Muppet Caper” (which is especially odd as it marked Henson’s directorial debut) or “The Muppets Take Manhattan” at all. Towards the end, Howard shows how Walt Disney Studios planned to acquire Henson’s company just before his passing. However, he doesn’t mention the litigation between the two when the deal fell through, and Disney decided to proceed as if they did have the rights.

At a time when seemingly any pop culture figure of note can be afforded an insanely detailed, multi-part documentary, trying to cram the life of Jim Henson into under two hours means leaving a lot of stuff out that will no doubt frustrate longtime fans looking for new details about the man and his legacy. 

While “Jim Henson: Idea Man” may not break any new ground regarding Hensonian research or documentary filmmaking in general, it should prove valuable to younger viewers curious to know more about the man behind so many beloved childhood icons. It also serves as an instant nostalgia machine for their parents, many of whom I suspect will shed a tear or two during the footage of Henson’s memorial service. As is the case with Henson’s legacy as a whole, I liked a lot of what I saw in this film—I wish that there had been more to it. Oh well. To quote a wise Muppet: “Meep!” 

Peter Sobczynski

Peter Sobczynski

A moderately insightful critic, full-on Swiftie and all-around  bon vivant , Peter Sobczynski, in addition to his work at this site, is also a contributor to The Spool and can be heard weekly discussing new Blu-Ray releases on the Movie Madness podcast on the Now Playing network.

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'Ezra' Review: Robert De Niro Gives a Genuine and Raw Performance


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The Big Picture

  • Ezra breaks from negative autism stereotypes by portraying its neurodivergent title character authentically.
  • Bobby Cannavale shines with a career-best performance as a comedian fiercely protecting his son.
  • Ezra offers a charming and passionate understanding of raising a child on the autism spectrum, standing out amidst inaccurate portrayals.

This review was originally part of our coverage for the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.

It's rare when autism has been portrayed accurately on screen . It is a sensitive subject to tackle, and while it might not be as stigmatized as it was even just 10 years ago, films like The Predator , Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close , and Music have characters that are built entirely around negative stereotypes. So often these characters are uniformly portrayed as robotic, emotionless, and even unlikable or obnoxious, while in real life people on the spectrum behave differently from one another.

While presenting his latest directorial effort Ezra , Tony Goldwyn made it clear to the TIFF audience that this is a story that is personal to him . Goldwyn's long-time friend Tony Spiridakis wrote the screenplay for the film, inspired by his own experience in co-parenting a kid with autism. Some might view some of the content in Ezra as done in poor taste, including Robert De Niro 's character lamenting how he can't use the R-word anymore, and those who do take offense have a right to feel that way. However, that won't prevent Ezra from speaking to many parents who are raising children who are on the spectrum.

Ezra (2023)

Ezra centers on comedian Max co-parenting autistic son Ezra with ex-wife Jenna. Faced with crucial decisions about Ezra's future, Max and Ezra go on a life-changing cross-country road trip.

What Is 'Ezra' About?

At the start of the film we are introduced to Max Brandel ( Bobby Cannavale ), a former late-night comedy writer turned stand-up comedia n. Because of his temperament, he has recently been divorced from Jenna ( Rose Byrne ) and has moved back in with his father Stan (De Niro). While Max is desperate to win Jenna back, the only thing that keeps him in contact with her is their 11-year-old autistic son Ezra ( William Fitzgerald ), who is incredibly intelligent, but his actions at his public school have led him to put himself and others in danger. Max and Jenna are constantly at odds with how to raise Ezra. Jenna wants to send him off to a special school and put him on medication while Max is weary of giving his son any prescription drug.

After an altercation at a doctor's office, a restraining order is placed against Max that prevents him from getting close to his only son . Following a career opportunity that could put his life back on track, Max does the only logical thing and he kidnaps Ezra to take him on a cross-country trip from New York to Los Angeles.

'Ezra' Has Its Heart in the Right Place

Unlike many portrayals of ASD on the big screen, William Fitzgerald , an actor who is neurodivergent, plays the film's title character. In his first-ever leading role, Fitzgerald steals your heart with his performance . He feels authentic and his chemistry with his larger-than-life co-stars like Cannavale, Byrne, and De Niro feels genuine and raw. Ezra could have easily come across as a made-for-TV movie, but Goldwyn and Spiridakis never sugarcoat anything. There are a handful of scenes that might prove to be a tough sit for some audience members, but it's nothing offensive or done in poor taste. While other recent media portrayals of autism feel like they lack the knowledge and care these kinds of stories require, Ezra is told with the best of intentions. Some of the film feels just a tad too hokey, there are quite a few jokes that don't land, and, yes, there's a point in the third act where the film becomes the strangest commercial for Jimmy Kimmel Live ever put to screen, but Ezra is just a hard film to hate. For as emotionally manipulative as some of the film's more dramatic moments are, including a scene involving Ezra finally getting to play with kids his age, it still manages to pack a punch.

Goldwyn's film never feels disingenuous as there is a clear amount of love and affection that was put into telling this story the right way. The film does suffer from some stop-and-go pacing, as the film introduces several subplots around some of its supporting cast. As welcome of an addition as Vera Farmiga is to any movie or show, her storyline never really does anything for the rest of the film narrative-wise.

Bobby Cannavale Gives a Career-Best Performance in 'Ezra'

Bobby Cannavale in 'Ezra'

Cannavale may not necessarily be a household name, especially compared to some of his co-stars in the film, but he's constantly popping up in a wide range of different projects from blockbusters like the Ant-Man films and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle as well as in more dramatic roles like The Irishman and Boardwalk Empire . Ezra gives Cannavale what is possibly his strongest work to date playing the role of a comedian who struggles with controlling his anger and is fiercely protective of his son. While he does get to use some of his comedic talents in the film, it's the more dramatic moments where his performance shines the most. He isn't afraid to show his character's flaws, especially as Max continues to make horrible decisions throughout the film, but the audience still can find a way to care about him and root for him in the end.

Byrne and De Niro turn in some strong supporting work as well , but their acting is most effective when they appear on-screen together. The back-and-forth between the political incorrectness of De Niro's Max and the worried nature of Byrne's Jenna make for some of the film's most entertaining and humorous moments. The titular character Ezra isn't written with stereotypes and the cast of characters around him isn't either. While actors like Whoopi Goldberg and Rainn Wilson pop in the film for a bit, they are never given that much to do compared to everyone else.

Ezra is irresistibly charming , full of so much passion and care, and finds strength where similar films fall flat. It's not like autism is some rare condition, it is incredibly common and is becoming more and more accepted in modern society, but Ezra feels like one of the first films in a while that brings a strong understanding of what it's like to raise a child on the spectrum.

unforgiven parent movie review

Ezra is an authentic and sensitive film with a career-best performance from Bobby Cannavale.

  • When it comes to movies about autism, this is one of the few that does its subject justice.
  • The film has it's heard in the right place, capturing the joys and challenges of life.
  • Cannavale is the best he's ever been, capturing the flaws of his character just as he does his heart.
  • The film suffers from pacing problems and subplots that go nowhere.

Ezra is now playing in theaters in the U.S. Click below for showtimes near you.


  • Movie Reviews

Ezra (2023)

  • Robert De Niro

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‘bad boys: ride or die’ review: fourth time around, will smith and martin lawrence can’t hide the strain.

Returning directing team Adil & Bilall steer this latest installment of Jerry Bruckheimer's high-octane action-comedy franchise, which began nearly three decades ago.

By Frank Scheck

Frank Scheck

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Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star in Columbia Pictures BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE.

At one point in Bad Boys : Ride or Die , one of the principal characters announces, “This is some dysfunctional shit!” With self-aware comments like that, who needs film critics? Not that reviews will matter to the devoted fans of the action-comedy buddy cop franchise that began three decades ago and whose antecedents date as far back as 1974’s Freebie and the Bean and Busting (feel free to cite even earlier ones). It’s a durable concept, even if this fourth installment feels more than a little strained.

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Box office: will smith's 'bad boys 4' jolting the summer back to life with $53m opening, 'bad boys: ride or die' directors adil and bilall talk jerry bruckheimer's unwavering support and being 'better call saul' fanboys, bad boys: ride or die.

His concern proves apt, however, since not long afterward, while frenziedly dancing at Mike’s wedding, Marcus suffers a heart attack. He has a near-death experience, depicted in a hallucinatory sequence that feels like an outtake from 2001: A Space Odyssey , in which the now-dead Captain Howard ( Joe Pantoliano ) assures him, “It’s not your time.” A fully recovered Marcus wakes up in the hospital, tears off his IVs, and perches dangerously on the edge of the building’s roof, spouting New Age aphorisms that would make Marianne Williamson embarrassed, while baring his ass to all of Miami.

Marcus’ newfound spiritualism becomes the principal running joke of the film, and to say it wears thin is an understatement. Throughout the running time, Marcus acts ridiculously, to the point where he thinks he can simply repel a menacing alligator through force of will. Meanwhile, Mike understandably begins to suffer panic attacks, which become the film’s second most annoying plot element.

There are plenty of those in Chris Bremner and Will Beall’s at once simplistic and endlessly convoluted screenplay, revolving around the pair’s efforts to clear Captain Howard from posthumous corruption charges. They know he’s innocent not only because of their long friendship but also because they receive a prerecorded video message that Howard programmed to be sent in case anything happened to him.

The duo’s job becomes even harder when they’re accused of being criminals themselves (don’t ask, it’s complicated) and are forced to go on the run along with Mike’s son Armando (Jacob Scipio, returning from the previous film), who had been imprisoned for killing Captain Howard but is now a good guy.

It’s a staple of franchises like this and the Fast & Furious films: Characters arbitrarily switch from villains to heroes from film to film, and inevitably a major figure turns out to be a betrayer (hint, he or she is usually well-dressed). Another trend with long-running series is the growing proliferation of characters in each installment; this one feels so overpopulated that audiences should be given spreadsheets.

Numerous castmembers return, including Vanessa Hudgens and Alexander Ludwig as Mike and Marcus’ colleagues, now amusingly revealed to be in a romantic relationship. There’s also a cameo by Tiffany Haddish in which she’s not so amusingly allowed to let her freak flag fly.

The three fugitives are relentlessly pursued by every criminal in Miami after the principal bad guy (played by an intense Eric Dane, whose villainy is signaled by his impeccable bone structure) puts a $5 million bounty on their head.

Anyhoo, it’s all an excuse for a series of high-octane action sequences, staged by returning directors Adil & Bilall (as Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah are billed), who seem eager to try out every technical flourish they could muster. They must have cornered the market on drones, since they’re used so often, both on-camera and off, that you begin to experience vertigo from all the swooping, swirling aerial shots.

The filmmakers also reveal a fondness for body cameras so you can experience the action viscerally, as if you’re playing a video game (a dubious achievement). The results look weird rather than immersive; one shot, involving Smith throwing a gun with a camera attached to Lawrence, is clearly meant to be virtuosic but just feels silly. The directors also indulge in so many tight close-ups that you can practically count the actors’ nose hairs.

That’s not to say there aren’t some impressive sequences, such as a fight aboard an out-of-control helicopter that’s as good as anything in the Mission: Impossible films. The single best scene, however, only features the main characters as onlookers, with the two of them helplessly staring at video monitors showing Marcus’ son-in-law Reggie (Dennis McDonald), now a strapping Marine, efficiently dispatching more than a dozen bad guys who have invaded Marcus’ home.

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Will smith surprises moviegoers at ‘bad boys: ride or die’ los angeles screening, ‘adult best friends’ review: endearing debut tackles the awkwardness of aging friendships, betty anne rees, actress in ‘the unholy rollers’ and ‘sugar hill,’ dies at 81, box office: will smith’s ‘bad boys 4’ jolting the summer back to life with $53m opening, ‘antidote’ review: unnerving doc profiles three anti-putin dissidents, oscar-nominated short ‘red, white and blue’ screenings to raise funds for abortion access, gender justice.


unforgiven parent movie review

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Ryan's World the Movie: Titan Universe Adventure

Ryan Kaji in Ryan's World the Movie: Titan Universe Adventure (2024)

Ryan's twin sisters Emma and Kate get trapped in a comic book world. Ryan enters this realm to rescue them, facing adventures, battles, and mishaps while attempting to bring them back before... Read all Ryan's twin sisters Emma and Kate get trapped in a comic book world. Ryan enters this realm to rescue them, facing adventures, battles, and mishaps while attempting to bring them back before his parents discover their disappearance. Ryan's twin sisters Emma and Kate get trapped in a comic book world. Ryan enters this realm to rescue them, facing adventures, battles, and mishaps while attempting to bring them back before his parents discover their disappearance.

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Ryan Kaji, Dan Rhodes, and Evangeline Lomelino in Ryan's World the Movie: Titan Universe Adventure (2024)

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  • August 16, 2024 (United States)
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