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The Bang Bang Club Review

  • Release Date: Apr 22, 2011
  • Rated: Pervasive language, disturbing images, sexual content, some drug use and strong brutal violence
  • Runtime: 1 hr. 46 min.
  • Genres: Drama
  • Cast:Taylor Kitsch, Malin Akerman. Full cast + crew

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    This question, which will instinctively occur to many viewers, is never quite dealt with in the film. The photographers sometimes drive into the middle of violent situations, hold up a camera, and say "press!" - as if that will solve everything.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    Writer-director Silver, who trained in documentaries, appears flummoxed by the challenges of getting the audience inside the heads of these young men.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Michael Rechtshaffen

    When all is said and done, their Pulitzer-winning photographs prove more potent than this well-intended but frustratingly generic picture.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Gary Goldstein

    Writer-director Steven Silver (with an able assist from cinematographer Miroslaw Baszak) captures this brutal time - which led to the country's first free, multiracial elections in 1994 and the end of apartheid - in vivid, often bold, but never overpowering strokes.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 17+

Wartime photography drama is intense but overcomplicated.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this true story-based drama about four news photographers in South Africa is set during the turmoil of 1990-1994 surrounding Nelson Mandela's release from prison, the end of apartheid, and disagreements among locals. Though the movie has some positive things to say about the power of photography and journalism, it's filled with intense violence, strong language (many uses of "f--k"), a character with a drug problem, and some sexual situations. Plus, the movie raises many complicated moral questions, and the history it covers isn't presented very clearly.

  • Families can talk about the movie's intense wartime violence. How does it affect you? Is it thrilling to see the photographers charge into danger to get a good shot? Why or why not? Does it have more impact because it's based on real-life events?
  • The characters are frequently seen indulging in alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Why do you think they turn to these substances? Does the movie condone their behavior? What are the real-life consequences of drinking, smoking, and using drugs?
  • Is it wrong for a journalist to photograph something terrible without helping? Why or why not?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The characters are self-destructive and selfish and have numbed themselves to violent events. But they demonstrate teamwork while in the thick of battle, and they occasionally show empathy. Moreover, their photographs, even if they can be seen as exploitation, sometimes have a positive effect the world over.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Main character Greg is sometimes reckless and callous, but overall he shows empathy and bravery. He could be viewed in some circles as a hero, though that could be debated. (He may be exploiting his subjects to further his career.) Parents would have to think twice before encouraging this kind of dangerous, questionable career for their kids.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: The characters work while surrounded by constant, horrifying violence; sometimes they're numb to it, and other times it affects them brutally. Viewers see general unrest, with riots, chasing, yelling, and throwing rocks. There are also bloody corpses, swords, knives, guns, and shooting. Many people are killed on camera, with lots of blood. One character is burned alive and then sliced with a sword. There's a bazooka and an explosion.

  • sex false3

    Sex: The four main characters are seen kissing and making love with their girlfriends. No sensitive body parts are shown, but viewers do see some skin. In one scene, a girl emerges from under a desk where a male character is sitting, implying that she has given him oral sex. A montage includes a scene of a topless African woman.

  • language false4

    Language: "F--k" is used very frequently; there's also a handful of "s--t"s and a couple of uses of "a--hole."

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Viewers hear Coke referenced by name a few times and see the bottles, as well as an advertising sign. And one scene plays just like a Coca-Cola commercial: During a shootout, the main character risks his life, racing across a battlefield to a shop, where he buys two Cokes. He then carries them through a hail of bullets back to his buddies. He hands one over, the buddy opens it up, takes a huge swig, and laughs heartily.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: One of the main characters is shown to have a drug problem. He's arrested for drugs and tries to clean up his act, but viewers see him lighting up and smoking pot. All of the characters drink in bars, and some are accused of drinking too much, though viewers rarely see anyone actually drunk. Some characters are seen smoking cigarettes.