Mixed or average reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 29
  2. Negative: 3 out of 29
  1. 88
    You can see how this movie could have been jacked up into a one-level action picture, but what makes it special is how Thornton modulates the material.
  2. Thornton and his excellent company summon up for us the long rides, dangerous companions, rites of passage, the mad love and, most of all, the special relationship between the man/boys that rode over the border and the horses that carried them there.
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    A perfectly coherent, handsomely rendered couple of hours, animated in particular by Damon's good performance -- shrewd, innocent, angry, wistful and, above all, likable.
  4. Thornton, directing his first film since the minimalist "Sling Blade" (1996), has a much better grip on the material when he's focused on the scruffy desert landscape and the adventures of the two Texans.
  5. An elegiac, visually hypnotic film about love, honor, reverence for nature and the loss of tradition.
  6. Thornton, writer-director of the superb "Slingblade," has a gift for depicting down-and-dirty scenes among men. And when our three principal characters go riding from Texas to Mexico, this is the best part of the movie.
  7. In an odd way Pretty Horses has been too faithful to the spirit of this somber, fatalistic, melancholy romance, too much a stubborn ode to stoicism, to light any emotional fires.
  8. The landscapes--which come close to outshining the worthy actors in the opening and closing stretches--are beautiful, and the plot, which is basically a grim coming-of-age story, holds one's interest throughout.
  9. The movie, for all its prettiness, manages to be shallow and portentous at the same time.
  10. The film's elegiac tone and honest heart come through.
  11. Lacks an essential sense of purpose.
  12. Even a full week after seeing it, I'm still influenced enough by the film's many enchantments not to be overly concerned with its flaws.
  13. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    To paraphrase Andre Malraux, it invokes but it doesn't always supply, doesn't course strongly enough with the book's themes of blood and earth and dislocation.
  14. 60
    The movie's greatest liability is the familiarity of the material, much parodied since the glory days of John Ford. Unfortunately, Thornton's love for its iconography doesn't quite bring it to life.
  15. Reviewed by: Sean Means
    All the Pretty Horses may end up being a good movie to watch on DVD, when all the footage is restored and we can see the subtle shadings Thornton jettisoned.
  16. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    A movie of arresting pieces that don't harmonize into a satisfying whole.
  17. 50
    A botched effort. Not necessarily bad, but hardly compelling either.
  18. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    A half-broken adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's great modern Western novel. Neither dull nor exciting.
  19. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    As this year's literary adaptations go, Horses comes a lot closer to being a truly bad movie than "The Perfect Storm" did, yet it would be hard to argue that the two are not the year's most disappointing in terms of trampled hopes.
  20. 50
    It's like a tantalizing CliffsNotes version of what could have been.
  21. 50
    It doesn't help that Damon and Cruz fail to generate sparks or that the second half of the film, in which John and Lacey face hell in a Mexican prison, feels bluntly edited to fit a two-hour running time.
  22. Remains as flat as the Texas plains.
  23. 50
    Never really gets out of the starting gate.
  24. 50
    The film is too eager to please and falls short of the novel's tragic dimension.
  25. Reviewed by: M. V. Moorhead
    It all feels disorienting and truncated, as if the script, by Ted Tally, who also adapted "Silence of the Lambs," was a harried summary of the book.
  26. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    It limps, not gallops, across the screen for what seems an interminable stretch of time and leaves the viewer with precious little to show for the experience.
  27. McCarthy's rawhide has become movie Naugahyde, a substance unknown in literature or in nature.
  28. 20
    At under two hours, the movie crawls by; at four, people would become fossilized to their seats.
  29. Most movies take a while to slip you into a stupor. All the Pretty Horses makes you groggy right away. Set in 1949, it's a lackadaisical series of vignettes apparently culled from a much longer movie that never made it to the screen. Be thankful for that.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 1 out of 6
  1. Mar 19, 2015
    Just a tad long, but overall a great story, and the scenery is way over the top. Well acted by Matt Damon and Henry Thomas, but felt likeJust a tad long, but overall a great story, and the scenery is way over the top. Well acted by Matt Damon and Henry Thomas, but felt like Lucas Black stole the movie. Felt like a throwback to the old westerns even though the set took place in the 40's, and a well written script to go with it. Billy Bob Thornton does a great job of directing and piecing it all together. Well worth watching and taking the time as the scenery itself is well worth the journey!! Full Review »
  2. moniqueg.
    Sep 10, 2006
    I read a lot of bad reviews but rented it anyway. I was VERY PLEASED!! It was a great example of story telling. My husband even loved it and I read a lot of bad reviews but rented it anyway. I was VERY PLEASED!! It was a great example of story telling. My husband even loved it and he hates sappy girl stuff. I enjoyed it and am glad I didn't listen to all of the negative comments. I found it very refreshing. Billy Bob did a great JOB! Full Review »