Universal acclaim - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. 100
    A superb crime melodrama.
  2. 75
    Philip Seymour Hoffman is in fine form as a man teetering on the edge.
  3. 100
    This flick is fast and ferocious, his (Sidney Lumet) sharpest and best since "Prince of the City" (1980) - and surely one of the year's finest.
  4. 88
    A dynamite film that ranks with the year's best.
  5. Its virtues are velocity, energy, innovative storytelling - and something that seems even more the province of young directors: a certain heartlessness and ironic distance in the tone.
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Compact, nasty, and altogether wonderful, a tale of brotherly greed and New York comeuppance that shows an old dog dusting off old tricks using new technology.
  7. This is not a drama of shadings, but of ever-increasing intensity.
  8. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    One bad idea can unravel and ruin lives in unimaginably horrific ways.That's the concept underlying the riveting Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, a sharply acted and highly entertaining morality play.
  9. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    The true star of this nerve-racking family crime drama, shot with a minimum of fuss by Ron Fortunato, is playwright and first-time screenwriter Kelly Masterson's deft script, which carefully develops each fatally flawed character and tells their stories in achronological flashbacks that seamlessly fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
  10. A wicked deconstruction of a dysfunctional clan: brothers at each other's throats; a father whose legacy is anger and betrayal; an unfaithful wife; a history of deceit. It's a horror show of hatred and festering psychic wounds.
  11. 89
    While the evil that men do to one another in this film may well be rooted in the Cain-like enabling of original sin from one doomed brother to another, the final familial tragedy feels exactly like classic Lumet.
  12. Even though it's scripted by a woman (Kelly Masterson), this tale of buried family resentments rising to the surface as the brothers plot to rob their parents' jewelry store is concerned only with the guys, and it's marred by an uncharacteristically mannered performance by Albert Finney as the father.
  13. 80
    Curiously exhilarating. Some of this comes from the simple thrill of witnessing something, or rather everything, done well.
  14. Atmosphere is the main virtue with which this "Devil" can tempt us.
  15. What you’re left with, finally, is the pleasure of a wily director’s company. In much the same way John Huston defied convention and predictability in the third act of his directorial career, with films as odd and fresh as “Wise Blood” and “Prizzi’s Honor,” Lumet is doing the same, right now.
  16. Arguably Lumet's best film in 20 years.
  17. The problem is not that the director is working but that his latest film is working too hard. Way too hard – this thing is melodrama running a marathon.
  18. 91
    Emotionally brutal, ferociously acted, crafted with unflagging expertise and relentlessly locked in its vision of human darkness, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is as grim and despairing as any tragedy by Sophocles or Shakespeare.
  19. 50
    The evident strengths and laudable intentions of Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (and even the appeal of Marisa Tomei in her undies) are overwhelmed by an implausible plot verging on unintentional comedy and a panoply of Noo Yawk dirt-bag supporting characters who might've seemed awkward on a 1993 episode of "NYPD Blue."
  20. This is an adrenaline-pumping, devilishly well-made thriller set against the downfall of an American family.
  21. 100
    In addition to being a study in great acting, this is a study in great directing.
  22. 67
    The result is not a first-class film noir but a top-grade acting class. You admire it without enjoying it.
  23. 100
    The movie grabs hold and runs you through the wringer.
  24. Pungently atmospheric, brilliantly textured and featuring superb performances from every performer in parts big and small.
  25. 83
    Ultimately, the film is just a smart caper picture with some good performances, but at times it's VERY smart, and Hoffman's performance in particular is one of the most natural and unexpectedly affecting that he's given in years.
  26. His (Sidney Lumet) touch in Before the Devil is so sure, so perfectly weighted, that it’s hard to imagine him capable of making a bad movie. The thing is just enthralling.
  27. 70
    The only player in this tawdry round-robin game who moved or seduced me in any way was Andy’s poor, hapless Gina. Tomei’s an ordinary beauty... But she has real screen presence and range, and her neglected wife is an artful inversion of her Oscar-winning role as Danny DeVito’s pert squeeze in "My Cousin Vinny."
  28. 80
    Furious and entertaining little morality play.
  29. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    It is, like quite a few Lumet pictures, rather small in scale, easy to overlook. But I think it is time to gather around a director who has embraced his octogenarian bleakness and sing his praises. Ultimately, I think you'll laugh a lot at what he has wrought here -- but only well after the movie is over and the full scale of its perversity settles into your bones.
  30. This is no nostalgia trip taken by an 83-year-old director. It's a fierce, hot slap of a movie, a shameless melodrama with bite.
  31. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    The action is violent, messy, and threaded through with dark humor. This is a movie for grownups, for sure, but it has a mulish kick that most such pictures consider themselves to tasteful to aspire to.
  32. 90
    Bleak, weirdly witty at times and unrelentingly suspenseful, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is the cinematic equivalent of a perfect storm.
  33. Reviewed by: Lisa Nesselson
    The wrenching tale has something for anyone who likes their melodrama spiked with palpable tension and genuine suspense.
  34. Reviewed by: Helen O'Hara
    Bleak, brutal and quite possibly brilliant, this is a triumphant return to form for Lumet and further proof that Hoffman is on an incredible winning streak.
  35. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Offers the rare pleasure of watching a major director return to his own material and rework it 30 years later. This story of a pitiful jewel heist gone so profoundly wrong that it approaches the scope of Greek tragedy isn't quite a remake of "Dog Day Afternoon."
  36. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    One of the great American films of the past decade, and the crowning masterpiece of Lumet's long career.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 175 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 69 out of 105
  2. Negative: 25 out of 105
  1. Feb 11, 2011
    Another installment in the POV thriller, this one, packing more emotion and melodramatic "fluff" than anything seen on "General Hospital." The plot is innately simple and intriguing, but is suddenly contrived with non-linearity. On the upside, however, each scene is shot delicately, drawing great amounts of real-life feeling. Seymour delivers his usual, banal acting job, bailed out only by solid writing. The real firmness and direction is lead by Finney, whose genuinately is more than able and deserving. As for Tomei...well, what you see is what you get. Don't let me stray you from thinking any differently, the film is very well done: methodical, concise, and enlivening. The subtle undertones and suggestions are superb, the anticipation is live, the direction is vague, and the irony is delicious. The biggest quandary, though, Hollywood's obsession to aggrandize...I guess simpler isn't always better...? Full Review »
  2. Jul 22, 2013
    Awesome frickin' movie. Nobody captures the debilitating affects of stress and concern like Philip Seymour Hoffman. He and Ethan Hawke are both great here. This one is a ride. Loved it. Full Review »
  3. Apr 4, 2013
    This film is about 2 brothers Andy and Hank (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke respectively) who plot to rob their parents jewellery store. The robbery is initially told from 2 perspectives for both brothers and later we get a third perspective of the robbery through their father Charles (played by Albert Finney). I thought the film started off well as the robbery unfolds and we start to see the brother's motivations behind the robbery. The trouble is that once we get past the initial premise, the film begins to become repetitive and a bit tedious. The second half of the film was just filled with squabbling and melodrama and never really seemed to go anywhere by this point I was getting pretty bored with the film. I was ultimately disappointed with this film which is a shame as it started out well and ended up being only an average film at best. Full Review »