Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.


    No Rating Available

Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

He introduces himself, simply, as the Ghost. He has no family, no attachments. We never know his name. He makes his living by chewing on the lives of bolder, braver beings, hovering and hearing as his subjects spill their secrets. Then, like a medieval familiar, he takes their stories and spells them out, retouched, reshaped, reformed. He keeps to the shadows of the text—a hidden voice in the vowels, barely whispered.

Now he's being paid to be the ghost of Adam Lang—a former prime minister of Great Britain. Lang's a likable chap who wears an easy smile, wields a glib wit and has the unfortunate habit of calling people "man" when he can't remember their names. Lang was an incredibly popular candidate back in the day: "He wasn't a politician, he was a craze," our Ghost recalls. But once in office, Lang made some decisions that haunt him still.

Lang had hoped to spend a few weeks wrapping up his autobiography—a project put on hold when his last ghostwriter was found dead, drowned. But now, just as the Ghost comes aboard to help Lang finish the book, the politician is distracted by one of his old decisions: his authorization to secretly apprehend a handful of suspected terrorists and hand them over to the CIA—where they were promptly waterboarded. Because international law deems waterboarding to be torture, and because Great Britain has placed itself in subject to such law, Lang is in danger of being arrested, tried and convicted as a war criminal.

The predicament is a potential boon for book sales but a personal disaster for Lang. In the midst of an extended speaking tour in the United States, the former head of state is suddenly marooned there, unable to return to Britain for fear he'll be dragged away in handcuffs. So he, his wife and his staff barricade themselves in a bunker of a beach house, hoping somehow to beat off the assault.

The Ghost is there too, of course … hovering in the background, asking questions, poring over the first draft of Lang's autobiography. And, as he does so, he begins to find clues his predecessor left behind—photos, phone numbers, hints that even before this newest crisis, all was not as it seemed with Adam Lang.

The Ghost begins wondering whether the previous writer's death was as accidental as it seemed.

Positive Elements

The titular figure in The Ghost Writer could've just minded his own business. He could have just taken the $250,000 he was being paid to finish ghostwriting Lang's autobiography, turning his back on the clues left behind. "I'm a ghostwriter," he tells Lang's wife, Ruth, "Not an investigative reporter." But he changes his mind and instead takes to rattling chains, pursuing the evidence until he learns the uncomfortable truth—finally risking his own life to make the truth known to someone else.

Lang also comes across reasonably well, believe it or not. While it's suggested that he might not be the brightest pol in the pot—references to his past as an actor spring up frequently, and the whisperers say that before he ran for office he never had a political thought in his "pretty little head"—he's eventually shown to be a man of conviction. Agree or disagree with his actions, Lang, we're made to understand, did what he thought (or, perhaps, what he thought he thought) was right.

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Lang is likely having an affair with his assistant, Amelia—an affair that appears to be an open secret, though we never see any inappropriate physical contact between the two. Ruth, naturally, is bitter and lonely. And so, one night when Lang is out of town, she glumly seduces the Ghost—first holding his hand, then coming into his room in the middle of the night, then kissing him, then climbing into bed with him without (it's suggested) any clothes on.

While the Ghost tells himself that responding to Ruth's come-ons would be a "bad idea," he's not convinced enough of that to kick her out of bed. Quite the contrary. He responds by disrobing himself (we see his body in profile) and "allowing" her to entangle herself with him.

Violent Content

We see that the Ghost's predecessor's body has washed ashore under mysterious circumstances. He might have drowned accidentally when he was in a drunken stupor. He might have committed suicide. He might have been murdered. Speculation from the story's primary players is pervasive and fuels much of the narrative.

When the Ghost becomes concerned that someone might try to drown him, too, an apparent ally tells him, "You can't drown two ghostwriters. You're not kittens."

Maybe not, but he just might be a punching bag. We see him get socked in the gut and head. Two people are gunned down (we see blood on their bodies), and a third is hit (we hear the thud) by a speeding car. An angry mob presses against the Ghost's vehicle. "Some peace protestors are trying to kill me!" he tells someone on the phone.

News footage shows someone getting waterboarded.

Crude or Profane Language

Two full and one partial f-word. About 10 s-words. British curses such as "bloody" and "b-gger" sit alongside more universal profanities ("b‑‑tard," "h‑‑‑," "a‑‑"). God's name is misused more than a dozen times (once combined with "d‑‑n"), and Jesus' name is abused a half-dozen times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Is it possible that drinking heavily is a requirement for ghostwriting? Lang's first ghostwriter died after allegedly consuming massive amounts of alcohol, and we're told he was a habitual drinker. Our Ghost seems little better. We see him drinking beer, wine, brandy, vodka, rum and other alcoholic beverages. He has a particular yen for high-proof drinks: "White wine," he says to Ruth, as both imbibe a significantly stronger drink, "Never saw the point of it." Ruth tells the Ghost, after watching a dispiriting press conference on television, that they both might need to get drunk.

Folks occasionally smoke cigarettes and pipes, and one old picture of Lang, taken in his college days, shows him with a marijuana joint.

"Let's hope he didn't inhale," an old chum of his says.

Other Negative Elements

Most everyone in the film lies at one point or another—either to protect themselves, preserve their cover or simply to make themselves look better. The Ghost even lies to police.


The Ghost Writer is, on some level, another cinematic critique of the War on Terror. Author Robert Harris, who wrote the book on which the movie is based, says the inspiration behind Lang was Tony Blair, a former prime minister who many in Britain thought was too chummy with the United States and therefore too sympathetic to the U.S.'s actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. To underscore its point, the film casts a harsh light on the CIA and some of its "enhanced interrogation" techniques.

Yet for all its (at times) pandering political underpinnings, the film is also a deeply thoughtful thriller that treats Lang with more respect than you'd expect. You have to wonder whether director Roman Polanski—accused decades ago of raping a young teen girl—felt a kinship of sorts with Lang. He, like Lang, committed a crime that made him a polarizing figure, both loved and loathed. He, like Lang, was threatened with arrest and imprisonment if he ever returned home, leaving him a well-moneyed outcast. Perhaps he and Lang both feel as if they're misunderstood. And perhaps Polanski is doing what most everyone else in the film—Ruth, Amelia, the Ghost—is doing: softly, quietly trying to graft a small bit of themselves onto Adam Lang.

Because everyone in The Ghost Writer is something of a ghost. This is a film about influence and subterfuge, where everyone haunts and is haunted. And for me resonance lies in this lesson, that there are people and things all around us, trying to make themselves a part of us. It resonates far more than the movie itself—which is actually little more than a well-told thriller that gets tangled up in booze and trips on bits of violence and profanity.

The overt story the film tells is, in some respects, less important than the subtle influence it can wield in our daily walks, without us ever noticing. We may not decide that Tony Blair really was a CIA lackey after seeing The Ghost Writer. But after watching it and a hundred other films just like it we may be slightly more inclined to think that drinking the strong stuff every night is OK, or a little more willing to excuse infidelity if the other partner was unfaithful first. These nudges, slowly normalizing behaviors that we thought were wrong before, are also whispers of the ghosts.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Ewan McGregor as The Ghost; Olivia Williams as Ruth Lang; Kim Cattrall as Amelia Bly; Pierce Brosnan as Adam Lang; Tom Wilkinson as Paul Emmett


Roman Polanski ( )


Summit Entertainment



Record Label



In Theaters

February 19, 2010

On Video

August 3, 2010

Year Published



Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!