Civil Brand


Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 13 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 13
  2. Negative: 8 out of 13

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Critic Reviews

  1. A compelling, highly charged film that brings a contemporary perspective to classic prison picture elements.
  2. Reviewed by: Walter Dawkins
    Film explores the abuses rampant in woman's prisons and the powerlessness of the inmates, while telling the uplifting story of one inmate, Frances (LisaRae).
  3. Although the film loses its way in the late going with a preponderance of melodramatic elements that dilute the more compelling social message, for much of its running time it packs a visceral punch, thanks in large part to a strong cast headed by LisaRaye, N'Bushe Wright and Mos Def.
  4. 40
    There are also strong flickers here of a film that might have been.
  5. There's way too much of the usual bonding, beatings, petty humiliation by guards, cat fights in the yard and trips to the hole.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    There's no question that Civil Brand has an ambitious premise, but it feels boxed in by the standard prison-movie formula.
  7. Exploitation shamelessly posing as empowerment, Neema Barnette's self-congratulatory drama about women in prison promises to reveal shocking truths.
  8. Before Civil Brand erupts into over-the-top melodrama (which is pretty early), it shows some interest in its characters, and in its less screechy moments the dialogue has the rough, bantering ring of actual speech.
  9. 30
    Civil Brand's aesthetic is pure mid-'70s blaxploitation, and not in an ironic or reverent sense. Even the heavy-handed political rhetoric is in keeping with the neo-blaxploitation vibe, since even bad blaxploitation movies often had revolutionary undercurrents.
  10. Plagued by continuity problems, ham-fisted storytelling and a problematic voiceover by Da Brat, Civil Brand feels less like a prison movie than a prison sentence.
  11. 25
    The cast includes rappers Da Brat, Mos Def and MC Lyte. Their fans might get some pleasure from Civil Brand. Everybody else best stay away.
  12. 20
    Without a scorcher like Pam Grier, the sub-NYPD Blue dialogue and acting dilute what could have been a shrieking wake-up call about for-profit prisons.
  13. 20
    Corrupt warden, sadistic guards, new inmate debauched by her surroundings, prison-break hostage drama--could have come straight from an old George Raft vehicle.

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