The Stranger parents guide

The Stranger Parent Guide

Slow, deliberate and realistic, this film is a compelling (and profanity-laden) look at the world of undercover police work.

Overall C

Netflix: Mark is an undercover cop, trying to catch a killer by pretending to be part of a criminal organization that can change identities and hide crimes.

Release date October 21, 2022

Violence B
Sexual Content B-
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is The Stranger rated TV-MA? The MPAA rated The Stranger TV-MA for language and smoking

Run Time: 117 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Mark (Joel Edgerton) is an undercover officer with Australian police, trying to get to the bottom of one of the state’s largest unsolved child abduction cases. His suspect is a man known as Henry Teague (Sean Harris), who has been placed at the site of the disappearance of the boy in question. The police have been unable to find either a better suspect or strong enough evidence to arrest him so Mark and other undercover officers are trying to convince Henry that he has been inducted into a large-scale criminal operation with the ability to change identities and hide crimes – but only if they know about them.

Stringing Henry along is a dangerous game, but police don’t have another choice if they want to crack the case. Eventually the stress of undercover work and the time spent with Henry takes its toll on Mark, who needs to find a way to cope. The investigation is only going to get more difficult as police close in on Henry’s disturbing past…

Slow, deliberate, and realistic, The Stranger is a very compelling look at the world of undercover police work. Inspired by a true story, the film has changed enough details to avoid criticisms over accuracy while maintaining a high degree of realism. Conversations, events, and characters all feel grounded and authentic. Unlike other undercover cop movies I could name, there are no dramatic firefights, no interrogations at gunpoint, no gruesome homicides or dismembered bodies. There’s actually no violence on screen at any point in the film, apart from a car accident which does not involve any of the main characters, and which doesn’t show any injury.

In fact, the film doesn’t show much – which is why it feels so grounded. The “Mr. Big” style of police sting mostly involves talking to people, creating elaborate deceptions, and then pumping the suspect for information. Most of this film takes place in cars or restaurants and involves watching characters swear and smoke while investigators wait for trickles of information that can enable prosecution.

The Stranger is too slow and laden with too much profanity (92 sexual expletives) to be a family film, but this is far from the gory murder investigation movie you might have expected. Older audiences with an interest in careful, tense thrillers will have a good time, thanks to a smart script and a subtle performance from Joel Edgerton, contrasting with a remarkably unsettling performance from Sean Harris. You can definitely find more exciting crime thrillers, but I’m hard pressed to think of one that manages to provide thrills without a whole lot of action embellishments. If you’re looking for gunfights, keep looking.

Directed by Thomas M Wright. Starring Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, Ewen Leslie. Running time: 117 minutes. Theatrical release October 21, 2022. Updated

Watch the trailer for The Stranger

The Stranger
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Stranger rated TV-MA? The Stranger is rated TV-MA by the MPAA for language and smoking

Violence: There are verbal descriptions of serious injury, torture, and murder with no on-screen detail or activity. A car collision is seen without any visible injury.
Sexual Content: A character is briefly groped over his clothing.
Profanity: There are 92 sexual expletives, and infrequent use of mild and moderate curses and terms of deity in the dialogue.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are frequently seen smoking cigarettes and drinking socially.

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The Stranger Parents' Guide

True crime stories are fraught with ethical issues. How did this film market itself? Which details did it change? How did it approach the issue of depicting these kinds of crimes? The family of Daniel Morcombe, on whose murder this story is based, have repeatedly objected to the film.

Why? How much say should the families of victims have in how these stories are told?

What are some of the legal objections to “Mr. Big” stings? Why? In which countries is this practice legal? What are some of the risks to prosecutors? What are the risks to police?


Home Video

Related home video titles:

Other films about undercover investigations include The Departed, The Infiltrator, BlacKkKlansman, Destroyer, Point Break, and The Informer. If you’re a fan of gritty, dramatic, Australian crime movies, try The Dry.