Surviving Abuse

None Light Moderate Heavy
© Baehr, 2016

Release Date: December 20, 2002

Starring: Derek Luke, Joy Bryant, Denzel
Washington, and Salli

Genre: Drama

Audience: Older teenagers and adults

Rating: Rated PG-13

Runtime: 120 minutes

Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Director: Denzel Washington

Executive Producer: Nancy Paloian-Breznikar

Producer: Todd Black, Randa Haines and
Denzel Washington

Writer: Antwone Fisher

Address Comments To:

Lindsay Law, President
Fox Searchlight
20th Century Fox Film Corp.
A Division of Fox, Inc.
10201 West Pico Blvd., Bldg. 38
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: (310) 369-4402


(B, C, Ab, Ro, Pa, Ho, LL, S, N, VV, A, D, M) Moral worldview where the biblical principle of forgiveness frees the soul and including Thanksgiving prayer in Jesus Christ’s name, marred by depiction of villainous Pentecostal “Christian” family and Romantic, pagan elements and man falsely taunts another man about possibly being homosexual; about 20 obscenities, one strong profanity, two mild profanities, and use of derogatory terms, including one “faggot” and 10 “n” words; child abuse both physical and emotional, woman ties up boys and beats them with a wet towel, woman threatens to burn a boy with a flaming newspaper, man gets into three short fist fights when taunted by others, in self defense a storekeeper shoots a young man in the head – blood is everywhere, another man is gunned to death, at close range, and falls down a flight of stairs; implied fornication, man embarrassed by virginity and later proud of losing it – his “triumph” acknowledged by father figure, implied repeated statutory rape of young boy by an older teenage woman; upper male nudity in shower room with lots of men with towels around their waists; brief alcohol use; man smokes cigar; and, attempted robbery, preacher’s wife mistreats foster children and psychotherapy scenes.


ANTWONE FISHER is the triumphant story of a hot-headed sailor (Derek Luke) who must find a way to bring his hair-triggered temper under control before he is booted out of the Navy. First-time director, Denzel Washington plays the psychiatrist who must help Antwone understand his past and instruct him in forgiveness toward those who have hurt him before he is literally imprisoned by his anger.


ANTWONE FISHER is the story of a young man (played by newcomer Derek Luke) who has been in so many fights with his fellow Navy men that he’s about to be kicked out of the service. Antwone Fisher has a hair-trigger temper that he can’t seem to control. He is forced to see a Navy psychiatrist, played by first-time director, Denzel Washington.
At first, Atwone stubbornly refuses to cooperate. The doctor makes him come to the clinic and sit silently in his office anyway. Days later, when the young man finally opens up, he tells the tragic story of a life that would have destroyed most other people.
Atwone’s father was shot to death two months before he was born in prison and subsequently turned over to state authorities by his mother, who declines to take him home. Antwone ended up in a foster home with a Pentecostal pastor and his physically and emotionally abusive wife. When he finally got old enough to defend himself, he was kicked out of that house and lived on the streets a short time before joining the Navy. He doesn’t know why his mother never came back for him. He feels disconnected, abandoned and betrayed.
In the process of confessing both his past and the decisions he made based on those events, Antwone is able to come to terms with why he is so angry. He realizes that he has the power to choose how he will respond to childhood memories that haunt him, and the people he confronts in day-to-day life.
Major themes developed in the film include the need to be connected to one’s family and forgiveness. Antwone needs to find his family, he actually dreams of discovering his ancestors, and he must forgive those who have hurt him before his anger literally imprisons him.
The acting in ANTWONE FISHER is excellent and the story is emotionally charged. The climax to the film is powerful and emotionally satisfying. The endangerment, physical torment and sexual abuse of children, a gory shooting, and the glorification of fornication make ANTWONE FISHER a movie for discerning older teens and adults.

In Brief:

ANTWONE FISHER is the story of an angry young man about to be kicked out of the Navy because he keeps getting into fights. Antwone is sent to a Navy psychiatrist, played by Denzel Washington, who also directs. Antwone tells the doctor of his tragic past. His father was killed two months before he was born in prison and subsequently turned over to state authorities by his mother. He ended up in an abusive foster home. When he got old enough to defend himself, stopping the abuse, he was kicked out. He soon after joined the Navy. Antwone feels disconnected as well as abandoned and betrayed. Once able to understand his anger, Antwone must decide how to respond to his haunting memories and the people around him. He must forgive those who have hurt him before his anger literally imprisons him.

ANTWONE FISHER is a powerful, emotionally satisfying film. The acting is excellent throughout. Scenes of mental and physical child abuse, implied sexual abuse from an older teenage woman, a gory shooting, and the glorification of fornication make this a movie for discerning, older teens and adults. This is not a movie for children