"Gritty, Compelling Crime Thriller, but Excessive"
What You Need To Know:
THE GATEWAY is an absorbing but gritty crime drama. The performances are compelling. Despite his addictions and personal problems, Parker otherwise is an admirable man who wants the best for the children and families he helps in his job. That said, THE GATEWAY is heavily marred by abundant foul language. There’s also some extreme violence in several scenes, substance abuse, and brief lewd content and explicit nudity in the raid on the cartel hangout. Ultimately, the crude and graphic content in THE GATEWAY is excessive and unacceptable.
THE GATEWAY is a gritty crime thriller about a middle-aged former boxer and alcoholic social worker in St. Louis who tries to protect his client and her daughter from her recently paroled husband, who just stole some drugs and money in a violent raid on a local Mexican cartel hideout because he owed a local drug dealer a big favor. THE GATEWAY is a compelling crime story with excellent acting, but the movie’s moral points are overwhelmed by constant gratuitous foul language, substance abuse, some extreme violence, and brief lewd content.
In the movie, Shea Whigham plays Parker Jode, a former boxer and alcohol social worker in St. Louis. The movie opens with Parker coming to visit a young white boy’s home in the black projects. Sadly, he finds the boy’s father stoned out of his mind, and the mother dead in the bedroom from an overdose. After the police take the mother’s body away, Parker returns to his car, only to find two young thugs have broken his car window and stolen his stereo. The young men taunt Parker as they run away. Parker tries to chase them, but he can’t keep up, so he stops.
Part of Parker’s job is looking after a woman and her daughter, played by Olivia Munn and Taegen Burns, respectively. The woman, Dahlia, works at a local casino, but her situation seems stable, and her daughter, Ashley is a smart, friendly girl with a good future ahead of her.
However, Dahlia’s criminal husband, Mike is released from jail. Instead of going straight to see Dahlia, Mike goes to meet a local drug dealer named Duke. Mike owes Duke a big favor, and Duke wants Mike to take a couple guys to steal some drugs and money from a Mexican drug cartel hangout hiding behind a furniture store. Mike agrees, then heads over to Dahlia’s place.
Meanwhile, it becomes clear that Parker is an alcoholic who sometimes snorts cocaine. Also, one of Parker’s co-workers, Stu, enjoys harassing Parker, calling him Porker. Parker is rightfully angry about Stu’s mean attitude. Parker is also still angry with his elderly father, Marcus, who abandoned Parker’s mother when Parker was a child. Parker’s mother died of an overdoes soon after that, and Parker was placed in the same group foster home where he places the young white boy. Marcus now plays jazz trumpet for a small band at local hangouts. Parker attends one of the gigs, but can’t bring himself to talk to his father, who doesn’t know he’s there.
Mike and two thugs go to the furniture store and raid the Mexican drug hideout, but they have to kill the thugs guarding the hangout, plus the man who runs it. During the shootouts, however, one of Mike’s thugs is mortally wounded. Needless to say, Duke isn’t happy. Also, Mike has hidden the cocaine at the apartment where he stays with Ashley and Dahlia, who’s still his wife.
Parker visits the apartment and discovers Mike’s been released on parole. He and Mike don’t get along. Mike is suspicious about Parker’s friendly attitude toward Dahlia and Ashley. He suspects Parker has ulterior motives for being so friendly, but it doesn’t appear to be true. Parker just likes Dahlia and Ashley and wants the best for them, especially for Ashley.
Back at work, Parker has a run-in with Stu, who keeps making digs at Parker. Parker loses his cool and punches Stu in the face. So, Parker’s female boss has to fire him. The city’s rules about such things are pretty firm, despite Stu’s harassment.
Parker drowns his sorrows with his bartender friend. He’s still worried about Dahlia and Ashley. So, he spies on their apartment door, where he sees two police detectives question Mike about the murders at the drug cartel hangout. Mike claims he was home that evening with Dahlia and Ashley. The detectives tell Mike, though, that they know his car was seen in the area that evening, so Mike makes up a story about wanting to take a drive.
Later, Dahlia tells Mike that the police also questioned her at her casino job. She asks him what’s happening, but he gets angry and strikes her. That night, Parker visits Dahlia at the casino. He tells her he doesn’t trust Mike, but Dahlia tells him that his boss told her that they had to fire him. She tells Parker to leave her and Ashley alone.
The next day, Mike stashes the drugs in Ashley’s backpack and tells her a man she knows named Louis, who’s also one of Duke’s thugs, will meet her and take the package from her. It will be our little secret, he says. Mike had given Ashley a new smartphone from the stolen drug money, so Ashley is happy to play along with her father (she doesn’t know where he got the money for the phone).
Later, the police stop Mike in his car to search for the missing drugs. They also stop Dahlia while she’s driving to pick up Ashley at school. Dahlia panics and calls Parker, and he comes rushing over to where the police stopped her car. Of course, they find nothing, so Parker drives her to the school to pick up Ashley. Louis happens to show up at that moment and sees them drive away. By phone, he informs Mike what happened, but Mike’s not worried, because he planted a tracking app on the new phone he got Ashley.
Parker, Dahlia and Ashley go to a restaurant to eat and discuss what to do. Parker visits the men’s room to take a swig of alcohol. When he returns to the booth, Louis is there trying to get Ashley’s backpack. Parker tries to fight him off, but Louis knocks him down. However, Dahlia smashes a glass over his head, and Dahlia, Parker and Ashley dash out of the restroom.
They eventually get away, but they can’t go back to Dahlia’s place, and Mike is likely to find out where Parker lives if they go there. The good news is that Ashley’s phone is out of juice, so Mike can’t track her with the secret tracking app. What if, however, Ashley gets hold of a charger for her phone and turns it on?
THE GATEWAY is an absorbing but gritty crime drama. The performances are also compelling. Despite his addictions and issues, Parker otherwise is an admirable man who wants the best for the children and families he helps in his job. So, when he’s fired, it’s a terrible blow to him. Also, the young boy in the beginning, as well as Dahlia and Ashley, are very sympathetic characters. Since he was himself an orphan, it’s not difficult for him to sympathize with his clients. So, it’s easy to sympathize with Parker and his efforts to help them.
That said, the movie is heavily marred by abundant foul language. There’s also some extreme violence during the raid on the drug hangout and during the fighting between Parker and Mike and his men. Also, an assassin visits Duke and shoots him in the head, and Parker drinks a lot and snorts cocaine once or twice. Finally, there’s some brief explicit nudity and sex at the drug hangout, which apparently also serves as a place for the drug lords and their men to engage with prostitutes.
All in all, therefore, the crude and graphic content in THE GATEWAY is excessive and unacceptable.