(1992)

Critic Reviews

66

Metascore

Based on 11 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
88
The movie was mostly shot on two difficult locations: The streets of East L.A., and inside Folsom Prison. It knows these worlds. The language, the clothes, the attitudes, are all shown with the understated conviction of a director who is sure of his material.
88
Gut-wrenching, brutal, and powerful, American Me is not enjoyable in the conventional sense, but nevertheless stands out as one of the year's most impressive purely dramatic offerings.
80
The Hollywood Reporter
In American Me, Edward James Olmos has achieved several important goals, but one outweighs the rest: he has made a film that will scare the hell out of any inner-city youth not already lost to the hopelessness of gangs, drugs and prison. [9 Mar 1992]
78
American Me is crafted with heart and conviction and intelligence. It demands no less of its audience. It insists that there are no quick fixes, but that solutions are of the utmost urgency. It demonstrates how the capacity for change resides within each individual.
75
Olmos is unsparing in depicting the dark side of human behavior. His in-your-face style stresses the urgency of a situation most of us choose to ignore. Though powerful, the film is sometimes preachy; there's a sense that information is being disseminated instead of dramatized. But it's hard to believe anyone will remain unmoved by American Me or its final shattering image of human desolation.
70
Variety
The criminal life is portrayed with all the glamour of a mugshot in American Me, a powerful indictment of the cycle of violence bred by the prisons and street culture.
70
Apart from some softening of the extreme violence (through manipulations on the sound track) and some fancy intercutting, this is every bit as unpleasant as Olmos can make it, but occasionally edifying as well.
63
An ambitious drama about gang warfare and the culture of violence, American Me is nothing if not earnest. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean it's a particularly successful film; for every bluntly powerful moment, there's another that's crude and obvious, sometimes excruciatingly so.
60
The New York Times
But Mr. Olmos's direction, from a screenplay by Floyd Mutrux and Desmond Nakano, is dark, slow and solemn, so much so that it diverts energy from the film's fundamental frankness. Violent as it is, American Me is seldom dramatic enough to bring its material to life.
38
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
American Me is a graphic and honest effort that, unfortunately, becomes a catalogue of other films on similar subjects. Its depiction of prison life is much too slow, too long, too repetitive and too familiar. [13 Mar 1992, p. C3]

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