Metascore
65

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
Watch On
  1. 60
    However you judge the movie’s politics, and whatever its flaws, there is something inarguable, something irreducibly honest and right, about Mr. Jones’s performance.
  2. 58
    In the Valley of Elah is too inept and diffuse to be a howl against the war in Iraq. At best, it is a manly whimper.
  3. 50
    Great actors can do more than carry a movie on the strength of their performances: They can also elevate it to a height it does not necessarily merit, and for much of In the Valley of Elah, Tommy Lee Jones does exactly that.
  4. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    50
    Too self-serious to work as a straight-ahead whodunit and too lacking in imagination to realize its art-film aspirations.
  5. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    50
    Elah comes packaged as a feverish murder mystery groaning beneath too many subplots and the added weight of a strained David and Goliath allegory.
  6. The more I thought about it, the less I liked what it turned out to be -- a vague promise unkept.
  7. The characters in this somber film have the glum look of individuals delivering a Very Important Message to the world. And though this film in fact does have something crucial to convey, this is not the way to go about it.
  8. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    50
    In my cut of the film, it ends after Jones opens the parcel from his son that's been sitting on his kitchen table since shortly after he left. I recommend viewers leave the theater at that point. You won't be sorry that you did.
  9. 40
    The movie chickens out. In the Valley of Elah could have been really interesting -- and really daring -- if it had focused on Hank's realization that his own child, supposedly a good kid, had perhaps committed the kinds of atrocities that would make any decent human being recoil. The movie (which Haggis also wrote) dances around that territory, but doesn't dare to march straight into its terrifying maw.
  10. Haggis also appears to have no respect for his audience. At its crudest, the film settles for agitprop...it's no Hollywood guy's call, particularly as he's extrapolating from a single case that could have occurred anywhere, at any time.
User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 73 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 34
  2. Negative: 5 out of 34
  1. LanceD.
    Feb 26, 2008
    2
    Intriguing yet disappointing. Haggis did not explore Tommy Jones realization that his "good boy" son had morphed into a man performing Intriguing yet disappointing. Haggis did not explore Tommy Jones realization that his "good boy" son had morphed into a man performing unspeakable deeds while serving in an Army which he had influenced his son to join. The ending with the flag and the school janitor made me LOL so hard. It was so indignant and ungrateful to our troops and country. I have completely lost hope for Hollywood drama movies. If they cannot realize that the problem is the PRODUCT and not the buyers for the slumping movie industry than they are truly disconnected and have a mental disease. Enough with the Anti-America, Anti-War, Anti-Republican movies. We get it, Hollywood is overflowing with liberals. Full Review »
  2. CydneyB.
    Sep 14, 2007
    5
    Except for Tommy Lee Jones' performance, this is a predictable piece of Hollywood schlock. Treachly music at end... Charlize Theron is Except for Tommy Lee Jones' performance, this is a predictable piece of Hollywood schlock. Treachly music at end... Charlize Theron is just plain boring, and Susan Sarandon is wasted. What a snore. Full Review »
  3. Feb 14, 2014
    8
    I think that people are generally mistaken when they label a person as pro-war. War is a terrible, but sometimes necessary thing. SomeI think that people are generally mistaken when they label a person as pro-war. War is a terrible, but sometimes necessary thing. Some people have written that this is an anti war movie, which is a very simplistic view and does not do the movie justice. This is a movie about the sudden transition from battle to being home and the consequences of that sudden transition. My father was in WW2 and saw battle. The transition time for him between battle and being home was longer due to the logistics of being home so many solders. He, and most solders in WW2, came home via ocean. I think the one month or so transition time between battle and being home helped by being a buffer time in which he could share experiences with others who had similar experiences and decompress. Was this a cure? No. Was it better? I think so. I don't think this movie questions the awful necessity for war, but it addresses our unrealistic expectations about soldiers reintegrating into a home atmosphere. As with most movies it focuses on the extreme visible edge of what can happen. While most soldiers do not display this type of behavior, the impact on their lives can be devastating for years. We all need to step back and treat our returning soldiers with respect and realize that while we will never understand their trauma, we can help them reintegrate into society with kindness and respect. Full Review »