Kill the Messenger

2014 R 1h 52m Blu-ray / DVD

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Kill the Messenger

2014 R 1h 52m Blu-ray / DVD
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  • Details
This disturbing, fact-based thriller is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb's involvement in revealing the CIA's secret funding and assistance for Nicaraguan Contra rebels during the 1980s.
Blu-ray DVD Streaming
Widescreen Anamorphic 2.40:1
English SDH, Spanish (Neutral), French
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen 2.40:1
English SDH, Spanish (Neutral), French
English: DTS-HD Master Audio
R - Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.
age 16+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 16+
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age 16+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that Kill the Messenger is a troubling, engrossing, and memorable thriller based on the life of journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner), the San Jose Mercury News reporter who first reported the link between drug smuggling, the CIA, and the funding of the Contras in Nicaragua and was first lauded and then denounced for it. The film deals with serious material and makes use of real news footage depicting crack addicts and the human toll of the Nicaraguan civil war. There's plenty of swearing ("s--t," "a--hole," "f--k," and more), brief moments of violence (two men are threatened by a group of men armed with guns, for instance), social drinking, smoking, and a frank portrayal of how one man's life unspooled in the face of extreme pressures.

Sexual Content

A husband and wife flirt and hint at fooling around. A woman in a deep-cut dress shows off her cleavage and kisses a man on the cheek.


Scenes are more sinister or seamy than violent (at one point, Gary visits a government office and subtly but clearly receives a verbal threat against his family), except for one moment when Gary and another man kneel with their hands over their heads, threatened by gun-toting strangers. News footage shows people fighting in the street and cops roughing up suspects in arrests. In a fit of despair, fear, and frustration, a man punches a car window, wounding his hand. He also fires a gun one night to scare off what he thinks is an intruder.


Quite strong, especially in times of anger and distress. Words include "s--t," "a--hole," "goddamn," "f--k" and "motherf--ker."

Social Behavior

The truth will out, especially for those who seek it persistently. But sadly, there's often a cost. Also, personal integrity sometimes will force you to take a stand that may seem unpopular or controversial.


Some labels/products seen: Jeep, Camaro, and lots of newspapers, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Los Angeles Times.

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Some social drinking (beer, wine) and brief newsreel scenes showing addicts smoking crack. Many scenes of cigarette smoking. A man downs nearly half a bottle of pain meds, and it's presumed he'll be driving later.

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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