Critic Reviews

65

Metascore

Based on 37 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
100
It's the first Hollywood Iraq movie to remind me of a Vietnam film like Coming Home, and it does more than disturb. It scalds, moves, and heals.
90
The Hollywood Reporter
A deeply reflective, quietly powerful work that is as timely as it is moving.
88
Chicago Tribune
Tommy Lee Jones is marvelous in the film. He has one scene in particular, a simple two-person encounter, that's as good as it gets in the realm of American screen acting.
75
The A.V. Club
Where "Crash" relentlessly pushed every conflict to a fever pitch, Elah takes its cues from Tommy Lee Jones' low-simmering lead performance.
70
As a narrative, it’s clunky. As a whodunit, it’s third-rate. As the drama of a closed-off man’s awakening, it’s predictable. But Haggis has got hold of a fiercely urgent subject: the moral devastation of American soldiers serving in (and coming home from) Iraq. At its heart are deeper mysteries--and a tragedy that reaches far beyond anything onscreen.
70
Newsweek
It's the casting of Iraq vet and non-professional Jake McLaughlin as Specialist Bonner, who fought alongside Deerfield's son in Iraq, that strikes a deeper emotional chord. His scenes with Jones, fraught with a complicated mix of bitterness, concern and guilt, are the best things in the movie.
60
However you judge the movie’s politics, and whatever its flaws, there is something inarguable, something irreducibly honest and right, about Mr. Jones’s performance.
50
Too self-serious to work as a straight-ahead whodunit and too lacking in imagination to realize its art-film aspirations.
50
Village Voice
Elah comes packaged as a feverish murder mystery groaning beneath too many subplots and the added weight of a strained David and Goliath allegory.
40
Haggis also appears to have no respect for his audience. At its crudest, the film settles for agitprop...it's no Hollywood guy's call, particularly as he's extrapolating from a single case that could have occurred anywhere, at any time.

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