Mixed or average reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 35
  2. Negative: 4 out of 35
  1. 100
    It moves so confidently and brightly that it's ticklish as well as chilling - and, in its own dark way, enthralling.
  2. A good satire that had the untimely bad luck to be about a U.S. soldier who will do anything it takes to party, except fight for the right.
  3. 80
    Tightly plotted and well-acted, the film litters its brisk run time with darkly funny and haunting setpieces.
  4. Like "Fight Club," it's a brilliantly made film that will be despised for the right and wrong reasons; if you don't see the humor in it any time during the first half-hour, leave. If you stay, you've passed the test--sit back and enjoy one of the year's finest films.
  5. 78
    You’ve heard of guerrilla warfare? Buffalo Soldiers is all about guerilla capitalism.
  6. 75
    Adapting Robert O'Connor's novel, director Gregor Jordan slaps us with keen wit and purpose.
  7. 75
    The film is filled with spot-on performances, by Harris, Glenn, Phoenix, and by Paquin, who has grown up after her debut in "The Piano" to become one of the most gifted actresses of her generation--particularly in tricky, emotion-straddling roles like this one.
  8. 75
    A well-told story. It pits a compelling central character against a formidable adversary in an intriguing setting while keeping you riveted to the cat-and-mouse strategizing, surprise turns and a few moments of actual warmth.
  9. At its best it's as refreshing as it is daring. Superbly acted.
  10. 75
    It's an enjoyable and occasionally thought-provoking motion picture whose viewership should not be diminished by the unfortunate and inaccurate "anti-American" label.
  11. Imperfect, but certainly provocative.
  12. Reviewed by: Clint Morris
    The script’s extremely well written, the direction flawless, and the performances -- especially by the fantastic Joaquin Phoenix, gobsmacking.
  13. In some ways it suffers from the same unredemptive afflictions as Elwood and his gang: It's a bit flaccid and flabby and lumbers gracelessly along without self awareness or humanity.
  14. 63
    When it was first shown at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival just days before Sept. 11, this movie seemed darkly, grimly comic. Today, though, it often just seems grim.
  15. 63
    Phoenix gives an electric performance as amoral Army supply clerk Ray Elwood.
  16. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    A tart, funny, moderately over-the-top hijinks-and-snafus yarn.
  17. It's not the dark comedy it wants to be - that would be "M*A*S*H" with a more modern setting and more gruesome consequences - but it's worth a look.
  18. 60
    The brouhaha aside, this chronicle of SNAFUs foretold doesn't have much new to say but says it with biting precision, and Phoenix's sharp, sneakily sympathetic performance is a pleasure to watch.
  19. 60
    A pleasingly disreputable trifle.
  20. 60
    In its post-Vietnam cynicism, Buffalo Soldiers feels almost avant-garde.
  21. The highest accomplishment of Buffalo Soldiers is its wise invocation of that weirdest of all precincts, the post, and the odd culture it spawns.
  22. 60
    The absence of any moral center makes this a bitter pill.
  23. Though the film, adapted from a novel by Robert O'Connor, is obviously trying to reference "Catch-22," it is far too dark and violent to be funny.
  24. Ultimately, it's a cold, caustic film that doesn't take a strong point of view but seems to offer up its numerous set pieces.
  25. 50
    The pleasures of Buffalo Soldiers mainly come early on, before the film becomes a sloppy mixture of tones and story lines. Afterward, you're left mainly puzzled and looking for a way to wash a bitter aftertaste out of your mouth.
  26. 50
    As social satire, though, the movie is a nonstarter, completely lacking in the zany lunacy of "M*A*S*H" and "Dr. Strangelove," or the whacked savagery of "Catch-22."
  27. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Had the young Jack Nicholson played such a character during the height of the Vietnam War, it would have been easy to go along for the ride. But skilled as Phoenix is at pulling off the individual scenes of Elwood's shenanigans, the actor doesn't come across as embodying rebellion to the marrow of his bones, which renders his scams arbitrary and disagreeably irresponsible.
  28. 50
    I suspect that Buffalo Soldiers is not about the Army at all. Without much ado, it could have been turned into “Buffalo Management Consultants” or “Buffalo Movie Executives.” Any clenched community would suffice. [8 August 2003, p. 84]
  29. This is low-grade satire. The shocks to the system in Buffalo Soldiers are nothing more than cheap thrills.
  30. Sloppy when it should be incisive, indulgent when it should be astringent, and ultimately unsure of what it is mocking and in what spirit.
  31. 38
    For all the controversy surrounding Buffalo Soldiers, you'd think the film would at least be interesting.
  32. Even Phoenix, an actor who can make an incestuous-minded Roman emperor seem sensitive, can't smooth over political nihilism this unsavory.
  33. Suffers from melodramatic overkill.
  34. The film's intent was presumably satirical in the vein of "Catch-22" or "M*A*S*H," but the satire is so weak, the action so devoid of comic perspective, that we are left with a naked gaggle of ugly episodes.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 13
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 13
  3. Negative: 2 out of 13
  1. matta.
    Sep 28, 2005
    Dramatically, it doesn't work. On the comedy side of things, it was pretty freaking genius. A solid outing for Joaquin Phoenix.
  2. Jun 3, 2014
    Buffalo Soldiers is very reminiscent of Fight Club in terms of its dark style and bleak view on life. It's not quite as good though. Fight Club contained a lot more kinetic energy and more dazzling filmmaking. It is however still highly entertaining. The schemes the soldiers concoct are diabolical, and Phoenix fits perfectly into his witty, sketchy, rebellious character. You become mentally involved in all of their deals, and hope they get away with it all, even though they really don't deserve to. The movie sometimes wallows in its own nihilistic atmosphere a bit too much, and sometimes the plausibility of the characters is stretched pretty thin at times. These flaws make it occasionally feel somewhat stupid, but they're not enough to ruin this dark little gem of a dramady. Full Review »
  3. BombshellNukealot
    Oct 13, 2005
    People don't generally seem to like this movie because it's raw and straightforward - that's war for you...however it has has some overacting and unnecessary 'coolness' added. All things considered this was a really enjoyable experience and a movie that sticks to your mind. Full Review »