• Release Date:

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics What's this?

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 333 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: A groundbreaking controversial drama about the tragic consequences of racism in a family. (New Line Cinema)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 32
  2. Negative: 3 out of 32
  1. 100
    A shockingly powerful screed against racism that also manages to be so well performed and directed that it is entertaining as well. [30 October 1998, Friday, p.A]
  2. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Jolting, superbly acted film.
  3. 80
    American History X is a crash course on how to make a message movie that resonates with crackling power.
  4. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    It's a testament to Norton's utter immersion in the role that he can even halfway connect the dots between this fundamentally sweet, brainy kid and the magnetic, white trash monster who'll haunt our minds long after the movie's liberal pieties fade into static.
  5. Excellent in flashes, unintentionally absurd and lead-footed at other moments, the movie stumbles under the weight of its own grandiose intentions.
  6. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    It's hard to know whom to blame for the film's choppiness, its mixture of rage and sentimentality, the stridency of some of the acting.
  7. A mousy little nothing of a picture.

See all 32 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 96 out of 100
  2. Negative: 3 out of 100
  1. Nov 23, 2010
    One of the greatest movies I've ever seen, with an amazing, captivating performance by Edward Norton. This film sheds light on issues that many people in society are afraid to discuss or take seriously. A beautifully composed film, a must see. Expand
  2. Sep 26, 2013
    I really enjoyed this film. I loved the acting and powerfull message this movie had. I think this movie kinda helped me with some stuff I was going through as well. Expand
  3. Apr 24, 2011
    One of the most powerful films anyone should and must watch. Edward Norton excels all boundaries of acting In American History X. For a moment it just feels too real and you forget he's acting. He lands a remarkable, touching, and true character, struggling to fight for the errors committed in the past. Expand
  4. Jan 14, 2013
    This movie is a rough gritty film that deals with modern day Nazi's and how it affects people. It is a very real movie that shows truth and is powerful. It is no the best ever but a very good movie. Expand
  5. Aug 27, 2012
    Very rough and intense but fantastically acted and written! Music is also awesome and so is the whole movie. Absolutely great with a tragical story but so is life. A masterpiece! Expand
  6. Apr 22, 2014
    White supremacist Derek Vinyard lands himself in prison having savagely murdered a black gang member caught trying to steal his truck. Whilst in prison he has time to reflect on his beliefs and realises that he must change his ways. Upon his release however he finds that his younger brother, Danny, is following a similar path and vows to stop him.

    As an audience it can often be difficult to understand why a person may hold racist viewers. Unlike the majority of movies dealing with race however American History X paints a picture of why its characters feel and act the way they do giving it far more relevance to real life as well as making for a far more interesting movie.

    Fantastic performances from the cast, particularly Edward Norton in arguably his finest ever performance, also help to maintain the authentic feel of the movie. By the time it reaches its finale it is easy to have become invested in the characters in what is an engrossing look at racial tension within Los Angeles.
  7. Aug 25, 2011
    What we have here is a message picture determined to undo itself, with simple ideas (see: I think racism is a tad more complicated than Norton and his black friend) needlessly histrionic dialogue (see: interactions with family), and manipulating moments of over-drama with the force of a chainsaw rising out of a volcano (see: every scene in which racial atrocities are committed, which are all in black and white, slow-motion and have a choir singing the music of hell in the foreground). Expand

See all 100 User Reviews


Related Articles

  1. When Film Critics and Movie Fans Disagree

    When Film Critics and Movie Fans Disagree Image
    Published: August 10, 2011
    Sometimes, movie reviewers as a group appear to be out of sync with Metacritic users. We look at the films with the biggest discrepancies between professional critic scores and the user consensus.