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

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 337 Ratings

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  • 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. adaml
    May 30, 2009
    Unbelievable film. great acting performance by ed norton and genius directing by tony kaye, although he didn't feel he was able to make it exactly how he wanted it in the final editing. The movie gives a great message, and shows how some perfectly valid right wing ideas can go completely misconstrued. Expand
  3. KerrieC.
    Jan 10, 2006
    This movie shows everyhitng that people need to know about skinheads...Sttuff you think is not out there.
  4. May 1, 2014
    Great movie that brings a lot of reflection over racism and prejudice. Give it a shot, it's totally worth it. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I can't see how it got a overall score under 8. Expand
  5. RodG.
    Feb 21, 2007
    Way too good of a movie for the critics to come up with a 62 rating. Well acted. I think it gave a realistic insight to why some people believe what they believe. I don't think anybody would argue that racism is ugly and terrible. I compare this movie to "Crash" as far as attempting to show small unseen factors that effect people. Expand
  6. May 28, 2014
    Now this is a great film. Yes, it is dark, violent, and quite disturbing at times, but it is also powerful, moving, and important. Edward Norton is absolutely phenomenal. He takes this deeply troubled character who comes to realize what is truly going on his life and he knocks it out of the park. He was terrific and put the film on his shoulders and absolutely killed it. The director, Tony Kaye, while he wishes to distance himself from the final product, he did a great job as well. There was some beautiful imagery here and while it may not be the version he intended as the final cut, his vision absolutely is here and the messages it provokes is still powerful. Really, after watching this film, I felt like I had been hit by a ton of bricks. The entire film is so moving and affecting that it really leaves you in a trance once it ends and the credits start rolling. On top of that, there are many powerful scenes, but none as powerful as the final one. It really leaves you on the brink of tears as you try to deal with what you just watched.

    A truly mesmerizing character study with a heart and soul, American History X should absolutely be considered a "must watch" for all.
  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


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