Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 18
  2. Negative: 4 out of 18
  1. Quite an entertaining genre piece boasting a terrifically sinewy lead performance from Wanda De Jesus.
  2. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Illegal Tender echoes "A History of Violence," another gritty film that explores escaping a criminal past. But the vast vapidity behind Illegal Tender's ill-conceived story line is far harder to overcome.
  3. 25
    Illegal Tender is the sort of crime movie in which nothing, not one detail, has been observed from real life; it's composed entirely of fantasies and falsehoods lifted from bad movies and hip-hop videos.
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Leydon
    Too muted to have much lasting impact, and remains modestly diverting only on a scene-to-scene basis. There's no quotable dialogue, no standout action sequence, no flashy supporting performances -- in short, nothing to lift Illegal Tender from the level of competent but inconsequential B-movie.
  5. Pistol-packing De Jesus evokes Pam Grier in spots but certainly holds her own.
  6. Reviewed by: Robert Wilonsky
    We’re too bored to have fun.
  7. Luridly earnest and laughably immoral, Illegal Tender is an old genre movie with a new look. Call it Hispanixploitation.
  8. 63
    As it is, Illegal Tender works as a melodrama, and it benefits enormously from the performance of Wanda DeJesus.
  9. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The movie's a genuine oddity: a Latino action drama with one foot in bullet-spitting genre flicks -- '70s blaxploitation and '80s coke-kingpin films are the primary reference points -- and the other in raggedly personal family melodrama.
  10. What kind of movie is misdirected, poorly acted, preposterously written--and still wholly entertaining? A B-movie, of course. While Illegal Tender has misguided pretensions towards Serious Filmmaking, it's surprisingly likeable if you see it instead as a cheesy thriller good for a lazy Friday night.
  11. Never gets the mixture right, lurching between bullet-happy shootouts and overwrought domestic content.
  12. 50
    This tale of crime and punishment is wrapped in a veneer of flashy attitude but founders on mundane details.
  13. 0
    The real mystery here is why this slapdash semi-effort didn't go straight to video.
  14. Never transcends its clichés.
  15. Reviewed by: Marc Bernardin
    For a second, the movie has the snap of a truly surprising thriller -- like a Hispanic "Kill Bill" -- about an aging lioness willing to kill to protect her cub.
  16. Reviewed by: Rafer Guzman
    The movie's one bright spot is Gonzalez, a refreshingly natural young actor who needs to get out of B-movies.
  17. 50
    A throwback to 1970s blaxploitation flicks, with a Latin accent, Illegal Tender would be a brassy, sassy guilty pleasure if it were more, well, pleasurable.
  18. 42
    For a film about growing up, Illegal Tender loses itself in a lot of silly juvenilia.

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