'The Messenger' Critic Reviews

86%
MovieWeb:   3 reviews
90%
Rotten Tomatoes:   155 reviews
  • Owen Gleiberman Entertainment Weekly (Top Critic)
    75
    The Messenger honors those who fought and died in Iraq by acting out, with an anguished handheld immediacy, how large each of those sacrifices really is.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • A.O. Scott New York Times (Top Critic)
    80
    Oren Moverman's sober and satisfying drama shows how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have created a fissure in American society.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Peter Bradshaw Guardian [UK] (Top Critic)
    60
    An intelligent and well-acted film which deserves its outing here.
    Full Review » 3 years ago
  • Claudia Puig USA Today (Top Critic)
    88
    This is a wholly different look at the fallout of the Iraq War and its effect on soldiers and civilians. It is also a gentle portrait of grief, friendship and solace.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Michael O'Sullivan Washington Post (Top Critic)
    75
    Together, under the assured direction of first-time feature filmmaker Oren Moverman, these three actors tell a story that is at once hard-hitting and bizarrely gentle.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Wesley Morris Boston Globe (Top Critic)
    75
    A forcefully acted and peculiar emotional drama...
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Elizabeth Weitzman New York Daily News (Top Critic)
    60
    A somber drama about intimate wartime tragedies, Oren Moverman's debut feels more respectful than real.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • David Edelstein New York Magazine (Top Critic)
    I'm not sure how Morton made sense of her character's ebbs and flows, but I never doubted her. She's a mariner in uncharted seas of emotion.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • David Denby New Yorker (Top Critic)
    This is a fully felt, morally alert, marvellously acted piece of work. Despite the grim subject, it's a sweet-tempered movie, with moments of explosive humor -- an entertainment.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times (Top Critic)
    88
    The Messenger knows that even if it tells a tearjerking story, it doesn't have to be a tearjerker. In fact, when a sad story tries too hard, it can be fatal.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Michael Phillips Chicago Tribune (Top Critic)
    88
    Some jobs are dirtier than others, and after seeing director and co-writer Oren Moverman's beautifully acted new film The Messenger, you'll be better acquainted with some of the most grueling work a human being can be called upon to perform.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • J. R. Jones Chicago Reader (Top Critic)
    Whenever writer-director Oren Moverman moves past these scattered and admittedly voyeuristic moments into the lives of the two soldiers, the movie drifts into received wisdom and unconvincing romance.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Steven Rea Philadelphia Inquirer (Top Critic)
    63
    For all the film's gritty verisimilitude, The Messenger is not the great Iraq War movie that Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker is.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Colin Covert Minneapolis Star Tribune (Top Critic)
    100
    This is a poignant war movie, but it's also a buddy movie with a difference, one that's both funny and bleak.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Tom Long Detroit News (Top Critic)
    84
    The beauty in Foster's portrayal is that it never completely explodes, but anger and aching seethe behind his eyes. Harrelson, meanwhile, is a good old boy with a bad old job.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Bill Goodykoontz Arizona Republic (Top Critic)
    80
    The Messenger delivers what it has to say without sensationalism or political posturing. That restraint, along with the quality of the performances, makes it all the more powerful.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Rex Reed New York Observer (Top Critic)
    At its center lie three accomplished performances, by Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson and Samantha Morton, that are not to be missed.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Peter Debruge Variety (Top Critic)
    The Messenger manages to be both practical and patriotic in the same breath, zeroing in on one of the most painful aspects of wartime.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Kyle Smith New York Post (Top Critic)
    25
    A shoddy, shouty bore. A piece of flummery.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Roger Moore Orlando Sentinel (Top Critic)
    88
    Harrelson gives us layers of hurt under a callous yet needy crust. It may be the best performance of his career and certainly deserves Oscar consideration.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Peter Howell Toronto Star (Top Critic)
    88
    The film is premised on the verbal communication of urgent information, yet its many non-verbal moments provide the greatest strength and clarity.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Rick Groen Globe and Mail (Top Critic)
    100
    The bombshell is the news of a soldier's death and the delivery of that message is the heart of this unsentimental, yet deeply moving, story.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Justin Lowe Hollywood Reporter (Top Critic)
    A penetrating assessment of post-war readjustment.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • David Germain Associated Press (Top Critic)
    A story that strays about without finding its center.
    Full Review » 5 years ago
  • Peter Travers Rolling Stone (Top Critic)
    88
    The Messenger, showing humanity under siege, opens wounds inflicted by the Iraq War -- not on the battlefield but in the hearts of the families of soldiers who never made it back home.
    Full Review » 5 years ago