Metascore
69

Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 38
  2. Negative: 0 out of 38
  1. 100
    In the year's richest, most complex and ultimately most heartbreaking film, Inarritu invites us to get past the babble of modern civilization and start listening to each other.
  2. 100
    This is a serious movie overflowing with memorable acting, unforgettable images, searing tragedy, unexpected humor and an eloquent plea for international understanding. And while it's by no stretch of imagination light entertainment, it's fundamentally a more optimistic work than either "Amores Perros" or "21 Grams."
  3. The filmmakers succeed brilliantly in weaving these stories together, taking time to explore depth of character and relationships. The suspense builds throughout as everyone involved becomes lost in a place they don't understand with people they don't know if they can trust.
  4. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    90
    Effectively building dread and emotional tension as tragic incidents triggered by human stupidity and carelessness steadily multiply, this film, like "21 Grams" in particular, employs a deterministically grim mindset in the cause of its philosophical aspirations, but is gripping nearly all the way.
  5. 89
    It's a masterful film, the kind you itch to see twice or more, as elliptical as a dream and as direct as the short sharp shock of lead kissing flesh.
  6. It's a powerhouse, demanding film that sometimes stretches the limits of credibility. But it's done with such consistent technical brilliance--and with such a first-rate cast and company.
  7. A powerful movie that should win all the year's ensemble acting awards. Pitt has never done better dramatic work, Blanchett is as convincing as always, and - in introducing themselves to American audiences - veteran Mexican actress Barraza and Japan's Kikuchi are revelations.
  8. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    88
    Babel may be the most ambitious movie of the year, tackling towering communication barriers, global politics and cultural divides in a structurally complex and fascinating narrative.
  9. 88
    Its complex (yet not mystifying) storytelling, forceful character development, and superb cinematography make this a candidate for one of 2006's best offerings.
  10. 83
    Even as Inarritu has matured as a craftsman, he has stood perhaps one beat too long in the same place as a storyteller. In ways, Babel is his best work, but it's time to move on.
  11. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    80
    It may be too slow for some tastes, but Babel remains emotionally bruising but compulsive viewing.
  12. The beauty of this film is in its lapidary details, which sparkle with feeling and surprise.
  13. 80
    In the end Babel, like that tower in the book of Genesis, is a grand wreck, an incomplete monument to its own limitless ambition. But it is there, on the landscape, a startling and imposing reality. It's a folly, and also, perversely, a wonder.
  14. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    80
    Babel has great expectations for itself: It wants to be a movie about big ideas and big emotions at the same time. Aided by gorgeous locations and classy trappings (cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto, theme music by Gustavo Santaolalla), it succeeds for the most part.
  15. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    80
    Babel is a movie that leaves you feeling limp and wrung out, but mysteriously moved by its vivid human encounters with the hot, tightly wired, chancy and coincidental world, ever capable of terrorizing us when we least expect it.
  16. 75
    The movie doesn't quite achieve the transcendent effect it reaches for, saddled with an ending that fails to live up to our expectations. But the experience of watching Babel is undeniably riveting: Even if the film doesn't really lead anywhere, you still can't take your eyes off it.
  17. 75
    The flashy spectacle of intersecting narratives and its crosscutting and fractured chronology nearly overwhelms the film's simple message, in this case that despite divisions of language, race and geography, we're all connected.
  18. 75
    While you can never completely put the fact that you are watching Pitt and Blanchett out of your mind, they both give charged, emotional performances.
  19. Though Babel lacks any tragic sense of inevitability, it almost compensates with a handful of vibrant performances and the palpable physical texture of the settings.
  20. It offers razor-sharp editing, first-rate performances, direction that yields maximum emotional effect and a flabby, unconvincing screenplay.
  21. 70
    The film is technically superior, and its look and the strength of its performances (Blanchett, Barraza, and Kikuchi especially) carry it above similar fare.
  22. 70
    I hate to criticize anybody for artistic ambition, but the problem with Babel isn't that it's a bad movie. It's a good movie, or, more accurately, it's several pieces of good movie, chopped up in service of a pretentious, portentous and slightly silly artistic vision.
  23. 70
    Repeatedly, Iñárritu and Arriaga stop themselves just short of suggesting that we're all going to hell in a hand basket. Had they not -- well, then Babel might really have been onto something.
  24. Measured in anything other than biblical cubits, the sum of Babel's many parts turns out to be a picture that suggests Americans ought to stay home and treat their nannies better.
  25. Messrs. Iñárritu and Arriaga have played this card one too many times. If they really want to appear radical the next time out, my advice is: Tell a single story and tell it well. What a concept.
  26. All told, the movie also is a tremendous downer. The script goes for a vaguely upbeat conclusion, but it has no spiritual dimension that the viewer feels with any emotion, and it conveys a hopeless, pessimistic future for the interconnected world that it portrays.
  27. Comes across as more willfully clever than profound, leaving us to applaud the message while pondering why the messenger had to strain so hard to get it across.
  28. 67
    When the best part of the movie is when no one's talking and the anguish relents, it says something. It says that Iñárritu is a great director in need of a screenwriter who has more than one card to play.
  29. I was shaken, but not stirred, by Babel, a globalist melodrama that careens from Morocco to Mexico like a revved-up "Crash."
  30. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    63
    Babel is a ziggurat of brilliant pieces built on sand. It's also this season's "Crash," a movie you know is Important because it never stops telling you so.
  31. It's a film of unquestioned visual artistry, and the filmmakers' empathy and human understanding are apparent moment to moment, scene by scene. But despite sensitive performances, it's an experiment that fizzles.
  32. In their last collaboration, "21 Grams," the director Alejandro González Iñárritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga did syntactical acrobatics to disguise what a dreary and exploitive little soap opera they’d made. Their new movie, Babel, is more mysterious and less coherent.
  33. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    50
    I might buy Babel if it had any real interest in its characters, but it's too busy moving them around its mechanistic chessboard to explore any nuances or depths.
  34. 50
    Babel is an infuriatingly well-made disaster.
  35. Unlike many colleagues, I'm not a fan of "Amores Perros" or "21 Grams," scripted by Guillermo Arriaga and directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu. This conclusion to their trilogy is easier to follow as a narrative, but it's even more pretentious, generalizing about the state of the modern world.
  36. Reviewed by: Jim Ridley
    40
    Puzzle master Arriaga may be the Will Shortz of globalized hand-wringing, but the by-now-predictable jigsawing of his scripts reeks of desperation.
  37. Reviewed by: Joanne Kaufman
    40
    The ultimate poor judgment: the decision to put Babel before the camera. That defies comprehension in any language.
  38. Yet as sophisticated a piece of filmmaking as it is, it seems hamstrung by the banality at its center; that's why it never assembles into a satisfying whole. It's pretty -- oh, what's the word? -- stupid in its dramatization of the silly little connections that unite us, and it's somewhat selective in its choice of them.
User Score
5.8

Mixed or average reviews- based on 597 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Dec 26, 2011
    6
    Don't get me wrong; "Babel" is a grim yet seducing movie, one that is capable of diving deep into the diverse, infrastructural lives of others. But what pulls the pants down for this one is that there is no progress or moral. The movie just.....ends. Full Review »
  2. Jan 9, 2011
    10
    A breathtaking human story of startling perception and beauty. It is wonderfully acted and achingly tangible. Brilliant, and a must see.
  3. Dec 18, 2012
    2
    What a boring movie, it might have a background message but to me it seemed a totally UNNECESSARY MOVIE, brings nothing fresh to the viewer and it's nothing that you haven't seen in the news. It's like watching the news but with actors. Full Review »