To Catch a Killer parents guide

To Catch a Killer Parent Guide

The movie's quality is inconsistent, but the violence isn't.

Overall D

Theaters: The FBI recruits a Baltimore police officer to help catch a murderer.

Release date April 21, 2023

Violence D
Sexual Content C-
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is To Catch a Killer rated R? The MPAA rated To Catch a Killer R for strong violent content, and language throughout

Run Time: 119 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Under the cover of the New Year’s Eve fireworks display over Baltimore, an unknown suspect shoots and kills 29 people from an uninhabited apartment before blowing up said apartment with a combination of gas and a hand grenade. Officer Eleanor Falco (Shailene Woodley) is one of the first on the scene, but the explosion and evacuation of the building have left no evidence or witnesses.

Given the magnitude of the crime, the Baltimore police department brings in FBI agent Geoffrey Lammark (Ben Mendelsohn) to spearhead the investigation. Impressed by Eleanor’s unusual perspective and commitment to solving the case, Lammark wants her on his team, despite her junior status. But this killer isn’t interested in being caught or going down in a blaze of gunfire in a shootout with Baltimore’s finest. If they are to catch him, they’re going to have to start thinking like him.

Lammark and his team soon learn that their investigation has challenges beyond a clever and capable killer. State and municipal bureaucracies are more interested in their polls going into an election year than they are in hearing what Lammark has to say, and their stubborn refusal to listen to good sense threatens to destroy the case before the cops get anywhere near the killer.

If you’re into crime thrillers, you’ve got a pretty good shot at guessing most of the twists and turns of this one. It isn’t particularly unique in structure, and while it has some details you don’t always see, that doesn’t necessarily make it any more original. It’s as if you traced Van Gogh’s Starry Night but made the sky green and moved some of the houses in town around. Same basic painting, even if it’s not identical.

Genre fans might find this film worth watching, mostly for Ben Mendelsohn. His agitated, results-focused, paranoid energy keeps the film on pace, and his growing impatience with bureaucracy is entertaining. I’ll admit I was surprised by Shailene Woodley, who I can’t quite see as a cop, but since her character is a significant outlier from the rest of the department, it kind of works. (Mostly – some scenes are better than others, and not just for her.) There’s not a lot of consistency between scenes, and some are pretty bad.

Families, of course, will want to look elsewhere for their entertainment, since films about spree killers aren’t exactly jam packed with positive messages or wholesome laughs. Apart from the bloody violence, there’s a good deal of swearing. There are brief instances of non-sexual nudity and references to drug use, but those seem like much smaller potatoes than the dozens of people being shot and blown up. I know, I’m being all sensitive again. And here we thought that violent entertainment desensitized people.

Directed by Damian Szifron & Jonathan Wakeham. Starring Shailene Woodley, Ben Mendelsoh, Ralph Ineson. Running time: 119 minutes. Theatrical release April 21, 2023. Updated

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To Catch a Killer
Rating & Content Info

Why is To Catch a Killer rated R? To Catch a Killer is rated R by the MPAA for strong violent content, and language throughout

Violence: Numerous individuals are shot and killed and more die in explosions. A person commits suicide by jumping out a window. A character is seen with scars from self-harm and suicide attempts.
Sexual Content: A dead body is seen partially nude in the morgue.
Profanity: There are 53 sexual expletives, 11 scatological curses, and occasional uses of mild profanities and terms of deity in the script.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen drinking, smoking, and vaping socially. There are references to drug use and addiction.

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Other suspenseful crime thrillers include films like Prisoners, The Silence of the Lambs, 21 Bridges, The Batman, The Little Things, Black and Blue, Zodiac, and Wind River.