Generally favorable reviews - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers does a most difficult and brave thing and does it brilliantly. It is a movie about a concept. Not just any concept but the shop-worn and often wrong-headed idea of "heroism."
  2. 100
    Eastwood’s two-film project is one of the most visionary of all efforts to depict the reality and meaning of battle.
  3. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    This is a powerful, important and, in the end, profoundly poignant movie dedicated to the lives of men and women who fight wars and shoulder the burden of becoming "heroes" to help the rest of us make sense of what remains incomprehensible.
  4. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    It is one of the year's best films and perhaps the finest modern film about World War II.
  5. 100
    Beach ("Windtalkers") gives a tremendously moving, Oscar-caliber performance as Hayes, portrayed by Tony Curtis in an earlier movie and celebrated in a song performed by both Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan.
  6. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    To an extent, Flags of Our Fathers is to the WWII movie what Eastwood's Unforgiven was to the western -- a stripping-away of mythology until only a harsher, uncomfortable reality remains.
  7. 100
    As he did in "Unforgiven," "Mystic River" and "Million Dollar Baby," Eastwood handles this nuanced material with aplomb, giving every element of this complex story just the weight it deserves. The director's lean dispassion, his increased willingness to be strongly emotional while retaining an instinctive restraint, continues to astonish.
  8. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Clint Eastwood has crafted a bold and meticulous epic.
  9. 100
    Stands with the best movies of this young century and the old one that preceded it: It's passionate, honest, unflinching, gripping, and it pays respects. The flag raising on Iwo might have indeed become a pseudo-event as it was processed for goals, but there was nothing pseudo about the courage of the men who did it.
  10. The picture is spectacular.
  11. 91
    Like "Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers," it fills in our sketchy impression of that famously reticent generation of ordinary young men who were asked by a frightened world to accomplish an extraordinary feat. In this case, the homage takes the form not of a photograph or a statue but of a deeper, more sympathetic understanding of their experience. A finer tribute is hard to imagine.
  12. The movie offers one authentically terrific performance: Beach as Hayes. He's so painfully sympathetic in the role that he absolutely breaks your heart, and he looks like the front-runner in the best-supporting actor Oscar race.
  13. If Flags of Our Fathers feels so unlike most war movies and sounds so contrary to the usual political rhetoric, it is not because it affirms that war is hell, which it does with unblinking, graphic brutality. It’s because Mr. Eastwood insists, with a moral certitude that is all too rare in our movies, that we extract an unspeakable cost when we ask men to kill other men. There is never any doubt in the film that the country needed to fight this war, that it was necessary; it is the horror at such necessity that defines Flags of Our Fathers, not exultation.
  14. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    An epic both raw and contemplative, is neither a flag-waving war movie nor a debunking.
  15. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Ambitiously tackling his biggest canvas to date, Clint Eastwood continues to defy and triumph over the customary expectations for a film career in Flags of Our Fathers.
  16. 88
    A film of awesome power and blistering provocation.
  17. Eastwood's sepia-toned combat scenes are as graphic, if not quite as jolting, as those in "Ryan." And without a Tom Hanks-size star in the cast, "Flags" is not likely to do "Ryan's" blockbuster business. But "Flags," a true story directed by someone with far more faith in the audience's ability to empathize, is the better movie.
  18. Eastwood has made an honorable movie about honor, but the naivete of the conception - which some will call purity - keeps "Flags" at arm's length from greatness.
  19. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    Not as emotional as "Million Dollar Baby," nor as astounding as "Saving Private Ryan," but Eastwood remains the most astringent American filmmaker around.
  20. 80
    The flaws in Flags of Our Fathers are at least partly attributable to Eastwood's attempts to do too much. Still, even when he overreaches, he somehow hits the mark.
  21. A wrenching elegy to the "greatest generation"--a film with enough breadth and spectacle and poetry to transcend some clunky storytelling.
  22. Reviewed by: Joanne Kaufman
    The cheap perfume of sentimentality wafts through the closing moments of Flags of Our Fathers. It's all the more noticeable for having been avoided so well and so long. Mr. Eastwood knows that sort of thing doesn't mix with the stench of war.
  23. 80
    Flags of Our Fathers is an accomplished, stirring, but, all in all, rather strange movie
  24. In the film, the music, beginning with a muted a cappella ballad, is from Eastwood himself.
  25. 75
    Character development is of secondary importance to narrative and theme. As a result, we never really get to know any of the film's protagonists.
  26. Eastwood thrusts us into the period with an understated piano score (which he composed) and authentic production design by Henry Bumstead, who died last May after working on the film at 90. (He collaborated with Eastwood on 11 films, including the Oscar-winning "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby," and he's a dedicatee of "Flags.")
  27. The trouble is, he's preaching to the choir -- or, at least, to a culture, profoundly influenced by Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation" and Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan," that has already absorbed the lesson that ''the Good War,'' while it may have been noble, was never less than hell.
  28. 67
    What begins as a sophisticated meditation on the meaning of heroism gradually slumps into leaden repetition in the second half, as the point gets watered down and belabored. After such provocative beginnings, the film finally, dutifully raises its hand in salute.
  29. There's a tremendous amount of material here, and the script covers too much of it, often confusingly.
  30. 63
    An ambitious, powerful, somber picture, but it never quite moves you the way it should.
  31. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    You come out of the theater impressed by the scope of Eastwood's reach and frustrated by how little remains in his grasp. As gifted as this filmmaker is, this isn't the sort of thing he does best.
  32. Eastwood keeps retracing the same pattern, intercutting from the battlefield to the bond circuit, from the appalling chaos where no one feels heroic to the catered dinners where heroism is the dessert that sweetens the mood and opens the chequebooks. By now, though, the twinned structure seems fragmented, and neither half gets a chance to gather any emotional momentum or to further develop the theme.
  33. It's a noble undertaking, and Eastwood is stylistically bold enough to create a view of combat based mainly on images that are clearly manufactured. (As with "Saving Private Ryan," the movie's principal source is "The Big Red One," whose director, Samuel Fuller, actually experienced the war.) But this is underimagined and so thesis ridden that it's nearly over before it starts.
  34. As painstaking as a documentary but without the satisfaction of a documentary or the impact of a drama.
  35. Reviewed by: Ethan Alter
    Flags of our Fathers really loses its way in the final half-hour, when the point-of-view abruptly shifts to James Bradley (played here by Tom McCarthy), who takes on the role of narrator, informing us of what happened to each of these men after the war ended and their names became yesterday's news. It's a jarring switch.
  36. Maybe we won't fully understand Eastwood's film until we see the second part of this project, "Letters From Iwo Jima," his companion film seen from the Japanese viewpoint expected in 2007. On its own, however, Flags of Our Fathers merely flags.
  37. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    It feels disrespectful to say it, but this kind of war movie, like war itself, is starting to feel sickeningly familiar.
  38. 42
    Flags of Our Fathers fails as fact or legend. It's woefully incompetent as narrative moviemaking.
  39. 40
    What Flags of Our Fathers is not, however, is moving, evocative, or very unique.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 160 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 46 out of 62
  2. Negative: 4 out of 62
  1. Sep 4, 2011
    Ponderous (where's the battle?), navel gazing (not naval, unfortunately), sentimental, cliched, misses the big picture. Anything else? Actually, the battle scenes are quite impressive, even though the movie attempts to remove it from the screen altogether. The iconic photograph of the raising of the Stars and Stripes was somewhat inaccurate and was used as a part of US war propaganda? Got that? No? Then watch a movie that is two and a quarter hours long that bleats on about it. Alternatively.... look at the far superior Letters From Iwo Jima instead! Full Review »
  2. Apr 2, 2013
    It was a very interesting movie to watch. It's not a style I generally enjoy but I appreciate the movie as it is. I think it's important to watch movies like this to get a better understanding of the world wars. It shows the brutality of war along with all the other elements that go along with the time period. Clint Eastwood did a good job and this movie is worth watching. Full Review »
  3. Jan 18, 2013
    Muy parecida a Hermanos de Sangres. Lo mejor que se introduzca a un personaje indio. A como la prensa y el ejército se aprovechan. Tengo ganas de ver Cartas desde Iwo Jima para entender el otro lado de las cosas. Full Review »