Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 26
  2. Negative: 2 out of 26
  1. Reviewed by: Alison Macor
    Robbins' direction and script are nearly flawlessly rich. There are no easy answers on death row, and Dead Man Walking makes this painfully, powerfully clear.
  2. 100
    This film ennobles filmmaking.
  3. 100
    Sarandon delivers one of her very best performances; her shock at encountering the wrath of the victim's family is registered beautifully. And Sean Penn, who for too long has suffered with the label of being a "bad boy," gives an Oscar-caliber performance.[12 January 1996, Friday, p.B]
  4. Reviewed by: Jimmy Fowler
    Dead Man Walking drops a massive, writhing knot of sorrow in your lap and then doesn't tell you what to do with it. If that doesn't sound like entertainment to you, you're right. It does something far more profound: It finds the tragic universal core of a contentious issue.
  5. A bold, searching, wrenching experience. It may be the most complexly impassioned message movie Hollywood has ever made.
  6. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    Sean Penn gives the most riveting, selfless performance of his career.
  7. Reviewed by: Jonathan Richards
    A complex, myriad-faceted work of art.
  8. Reviewed by: Sean Means
    Their (Sarandon, Penn) performances and Robbins' drive to ask questions without offering easy answers make Dead Man Walking a thought-provoking drama not to be missed or dismissed.
  9. 100
    It's ironic that a film with this title should be among the most vital, alive, and challenging cinema experiences of the year.
  10. Reviewed by: Gary Kamiya
    Possesses that rarest of qualities: moral humility.
  11. Acting rarely gets better than this.
  12. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    It is a measure of its complexity--and of the forces Penn and Sarandon have held in reserve during their hypnotic struggle for his soul--that its final moments leave us awash in emotion.
  13. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Happily, there's nothing to misconstrue about the film: It's fabulous.
  14. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    An intimate chamber piece for two, superbly acted by Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, this is a mature, well-crafted movie.
  15. An extremely affecting experience, down to the last agonizing moment.
  16. Reviewed by: Hal Hinson
    What this intelligent, balanced, devastating movie puts before us is nothing less than a contest between good and evil.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 45 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 15
  2. Negative: 2 out of 15
  1. Apr 23, 2013
    Challenging, affecting, and uncommonly well-performed, "Dead Man Walking" earnestly displays a worthwhile and incisive loyalty to its powerful source material. Full Review »
  2. May 30, 2012
    Its was not an easy watch. Sean Penn's character almost never moves from the cell and talks to the nun from through bars. Structuring the film like this leads to a very boring script where nothing happens, it is predictable from start to finish. I would recommend this movie to someone who wants to consider the pro and cons of the death sentence, but it is definitely not an entertaining movie. Full Review »