Mosul parents guide

Mosul Parent Guide

It's refreshing to see a movie about the Middle East that focuses on the people who live there.

Overall C-

Netflix: Although there are thousands of Daesh (ISIS) fighters still occupying the city of Mosul, an Iraqi resistance force is preparing a counterattack.

Release date November 26, 2020

Violence D
Sexual Content A-
Profanity D
Substance Use B

Why is Mosul rated TV-MA? The MPAA rated Mosul TV-MA

Run Time: 101 minutes

Parent Movie Review

The city of Mosul was once one of the biggest in Iraq – but since it fell to Daesh (also known as ISIL or ISIS) in 2014, it has been little more than a battlefield housing an endangered civilian population and a group of determined soldiers set on clearing out the occupation. These Iraqi soldiers have been such a bane to Daesh troops that they are summarily executed if captured. Their reputation is formidable and they are as admired by local Iraqis as they are feared by their enemies. So when rookie cop Kawa (Adam Bessa) runs into the Mosul SWAT team, he joins with Major Jasem (Suhail Dabbach) to take the fight to Daesh. But urban warfare is complicated, and things in Mosul change quickly…

In a movie like this, you’re walking a fine tightrope: make it too violent and you’re just being gross for shock value; don’t include enough detail and you’re functionally whitewashing war crimes. Mosul does a pretty good job of finding a middle ground where there is some accurate violence, but not so much that the movie is just murder for murder’s sake. The violence is still gruesome and unpleasant – it has a certain reality to it which is certainly disturbing – but some of the worst of it happens off-screen. The other primary concern for parents is going to be the profanity. There again, Mosul scales back a little. Soldiers are a famously foul-mouthed lot (see The Outpost for a more realistic measure of military profanity), but this film limits that to fewer than two dozen serious profanities.

It’s refreshing to see a movie about conflict in the Middle East that isn’t about some white guy who swings in from New York to fix everything. It’s also honest, because that clearly hasn’t worked in real life, considering the ongoing problems in the region. And it gives the movie greater emotional resonance - these stories are so much more affecting when the characters involved have a personal stake in the problems they’re fighting to solve. All the members of the SWAT team lived in Mosul before the occupation, and many of their families did as well. Nearly all of them have lost family to Daesh, and as a result, this is a deeply personal conflict. American war movies tend to be about the psychological damage soldiers face, which is considerable – but Mosul addresses that along with a host of other challenges that you wouldn’t get in a movie about the U.S. army. This isn’t a fun or easy watch, but it is an interesting one. Maybe we should add “watch local” to our cinematic lexicon.

Directed by Matthew Michael Carnahan. Starring Waleed Elgadi, Hayat Kamille, and Thaer Al-Shayei. Running time: 101 minutes. Theatrical release November 26, 2020. Updated

Watch the trailer for Mosul

Rating & Content Info

Why is Mosul rated TV-MA? Mosul is rated TV-MA by the MPAA

Violence:   Many individuals are shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, or killed in explosions. Several prisoners are executed by a variety of methods. A dead child is seen.
Sexual Content: There are non-explicit references to rape.
Profanity:   There are 14 uses of sexual expletives, 4 uses of scatological profanity, and infrequent use of mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Individuals are shown smoking tobacco frequently.

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Mosul Parents' Guide

How long has the fight against Daesh been going? What have the casualties been? What role (if any) has your country played? Why is Daesh such a threat? What are their beliefs? How did they consolidate their power in the region? What historical factors enabled them to be so effective?

BBC: Isis, Isil, IS or Daesh? One group, many names

CNN: ISIS Fast Facts

The Atlantic: After ISIS, Iraq Is Still Broken

The New York Times: Its Territory May Be Gone, but the US Fight Against ISIS Is Far From Over

Loved this movie? Try these books…

If you want to understand ISIS/Daesh, there are some excellent options available. Journalist Joby Warrick has written Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, which won a Pulitzer Prize for its detailed research and accessible style. Also taking a historical look at ISIS is Ali Soufan’s Anatomy of Terror: From the Death of Bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State.

For an in person account, get a copy of The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and my Fight Against the Islamic State by Nadia Murad. Her mother and six brothers were murdered by ISIL and she was held prisoner because of her Yazidi faith.

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Mosul movie is November 27, 2020. Here are some details…

Related home video titles:

Other notable films about conflict in the Middle East from an American perspective include Green Zone, The Hurt Locker, and Vice. Movies on the subject from a British perspective include Official Secrets and Eye in the Sky. Writer and director Matthew Michael Carnahan also wrote Lions for Lambs, which focuses on the ethical side of American intervention in the region.