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Movie Review

Witness Protection

MPAA Rating: R for language and some violent content

Reviewed by: Brett Willis

Very Offensive
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Primary Audience:
Mature Teen to Adult
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Cover graphic from “Witness Protection”
Featuring: Tom Sizemore, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Shawn Hatosy, Skye McCole Bartusiak, Forest Whitaker
Director: Richard Pearce
Producer: _____
Distributor: _____

This is an unusual film, a crime-related drama without a lot of lethal violence and without a clearly resolved ending. It gives an inside look (hopefully an accurate one) at how the Federal Witness Protection Program works, and shows how the crimes committed by the central character have harmed and endangered his family.

Bobby “Bats” Batton (Tom Sizemore, “Saving Private Ryan”) has had a contract put on his life by his “business associates.” As the film opens, we see him foil a hitman’s attempt to kill him in his sleep; Bobby awakens and fires first, using the handgun under his pillow. The retreating hitman, who appears to have taken a shot to the chest (bulletproof vest?), grabs Bobby’s young daughter and uses her as a human shield, tossing her aside once he reaches his getaway car. Bobby, his wife Cindy (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, “The Color of Money”) and their children then flee to a motel and hide from both the Mob and the FBI. Finding no way to negotiate with his old friends, bobby turns “state’s evidence” and he and his immediate family are enrolled in the Witness Protection Program. The balance of the film focuses on the internal family conflicts and the adjustments that must be made as the Battons prepare to assume new identities and realize that they’ll never see any of their friends or extended family members again.

Content: There’s a lot of profanity; the mother and father use f* and other language in arguments in front of the children. There’s even physical violence within the family, but nothing deadly. A Witness Protection agent (Forest Whitaker, “Platoon”) shows the family a lot of bloody slides of people who refused or left the program and were killed. There’s no nudity or sexual content; however, Cindy makes references to Bobby having bought jewelry for other women (presumably as part of affairs). Those luxuries and the rest of the high-flying lifestyle the Battons were used to are now a thing of the past; the government only finances a minimum standard of living until protected families are established in their new identities, then nothing.

Not a pleasant film by any means, but in its own way it makes the point that crime doesn’t pay.

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