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The Whistleblower Review

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.

  • 30

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Ms. Weisz is always a strong presence, but her talents are wasted here on a naive heroine - the fictional Kathy is exceedingly slow to grasp the extent of the corruption - and a narrative style that turns the horror of the prostitutes' plight into harrowing melodrama.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Rarely has a movie captured the obscene violence of sex trafficking with such unvarnished grubbiness. In the end, though, The Whistleblower is a corporate thriller.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    For 20 years the news has reported from time to time of crimes alleged by employees of paid defense contractors. These cases rarely seem to result in change, and the stories continue. We can only guess what may be going unreported. The Whistleblower offers chilling evidence of why that seems to be so.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

not for kids

Strong role model in otherwise disturbing, depressing movie.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this downbeat drama -- which is based on a true story about human trafficking in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1999 -- features disturbing violence involving the teenage victims, who are tortured and brutalized (though most of this is suggested rather than actually shown). A rape sequence focuses on the victim's screams and terror rather than on graphic details of the act, but in another shot, a man shoots a girl point blank in the head (with sprays of blood). Nudity (mostly toplessness) is shown via Polaroid photos but never actually onscreen. The heroine has sex with one of her co-workers, whom (she finds out later) is married. Language includes many uses of "f--k," plus "s--t" and more. The heroine (Rachel Weisz) -- a police officer who wants to save the girls but winds up uncovering layer upon layer of corruption -- is a strong role model, and the material is well-researched and undoubtedly powerful, but this movie is far too intense and depressing for kids or younger teens.

  • Families can talk about the movie's graphic violence. What impact does it have? Would showing additional details have changed that impact? How?
  • Is the type of trafficking/prostitution shown here about sex, or is it more about power and money? Why?
  • What's the appeal of dark, serious movies? How often do you choose those over lighter fare? Why?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: The movie illustrates the depth and breadth of corruption and cruelty -- apparently based on real incidents -- in even the most respected organizations on earth. It also depicts some racial and/or cultural discrimination. It's a bit overwhelming and depressing, but the movie also shows how one brave, caring person can make changes.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Kathryn is a very strong role model, though the movie's intense, graphic nature means younger teens won't be able to "meet" her. She has a troubled past but works hard to correct that and earn the right to see her daughter again. She won't allow corruption or laziness to interfere with her work in Bosnia and Herzegovina; she does her best, all the time, and truly seems to care. She faces danger, makes ethical choices, and strives to overcome challenges.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: The movie depicts the trafficking of teen girls and shows many disturbing images related to this topic. There's a horrifying rape sequence; though no graphic details are shown, the scene focuses on the victim's terror and screams. There are suggestions of prostitution, drugs, and torture (with shots of needles and condoms). Teen girls are shown to be cut, bruised, and battered. The most horrifying images are seen in Polaroid pictures. One girl is shot point blank in the head, with a spray of blood. Viewers see threats, fighting, ruthless pummeling, and dead bodies.

  • sex false4

    Sex: Some of the teen victims are seen naked in Polaroid photos, mostly topless, though there are quick, hard-to-see shots of other regions. There are strong suggestions of teen prostitution. The main character sleeps with a married man (she doesn't realize it at the time) in a scene that includes groping, kissing, and the partial removing of clothes.

  • language false4

    Language: "F--k" is heard at least a dozen times; "s--t," "bitch," and "Jesus Christ" are used less frequently.

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Quick shots of a U-Haul truck and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: In early scenes, law enforcement officials are shown blowing off steam by drinking beer and/or smoking cigarettes.