Critic Reviews

42

Metascore

Based on 34 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
83
Won't Back Down says that whatever your feelings about the subject, lack of change cannot be the answer to our public-education crisis. Trying to cram an informational exposé and a vintage inspirational awards-bait weeper into one movie, Won't Back Down is awkward at times, yet it's also passionate in a surprisingly smart way. It makes a genuine drama out of impossible issues.
75
It's a film that deserves to be seen, savored, debated and given serious attention.
63
Slant Magazine
One of its strengths is a knowledge of when to unfurl information, particularly for the strongest emotional effect.
60
Boxoffice Magazine
Won't Back Down makes grand drama of bureaucracy, positioning Gyllenhaal as the knight slaying 400 pages of government paperwork in order to wrest control of her daughter's elementary school. It's rousing - if not thrilling - stuff.
50
Village Voice
In Davis's case, marveling at yet another fine performance doesn't stop you from wishing that her first leading role was in a worthier vehicle
50
The movie addresses timely issues but eschews shading in favor of blunt black and white. It's old-school Lifetime fodder dressed up in Hollywood trappings.
50
Variety
Grossly oversimplifying the issue at hand, writer-director Daniel Barnz's disingenuous pot-stirrer plays to audiences' emotions rather than their intelligence, offering meaty roles for Maggie Gyllenhaal as a determined single mom, and Viola Davis as the good egg among a rotten batch of teachers, while reducing everyone else to cardboard characterizations.
50
Both the lottery scene and the anti-union material seem to be fictionalized versions of material in the powerful documentary "Waiting for Superman," which covered similar material with infinitely greater depth.
40
So teachers' unions don't care about kids. Oh, and luck is a foxy lady. This is what I took away from the inept and bizarre Won't Back Down, a set of right-wing anti-union talking points disguised (with very limited success) as a mainstream motion-picture-type product.
40
The film is at its best when it focuses on real-life human drama rooted in character: failing marriages, crushing poverty, professional malaise. Davis in particular delivers as impassioned a performance as ever -- good enough that you wish you could airlift her character into another movie.

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