Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. 100
    The most powerful documentary I've seen all year, and one of the two or three best films ever made about an artist or musician.
  2. 91
    That rarest of movie biographies: a warts-and-all exploration of the life and times of its subject.
  3. 90
    The film is much more than a biography of the Clash’s guitarist and lead singer: It’s history, criticism, philosophy and politics, played fast and loud.
  4. 90
    By focusing on Strummer and giving a fair amount of screen time to his years in the wilderness before and after the Clash, Temple arrives at a more poignant and mature statement of what this committed band was all about.
  5. Reviewed by: Dan DeLuca
    Julian Temple, the British music-documentary director who helmed the 2000 Pistols' flick "The Filth and the Fury," has done such cinematic justice to the punk humanist born John Graham Mellor, who died of a congenital heart defect in 2002.
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The triumph of this fond, uncontainable documentary is that it lets you hear that voice again loud and clear.
  7. Captures the Joe Strummer who, in the late 1970s, just about firebombed the rock establishment with his fury.
  8. 83
    Temple introduces viewers to Strummer the punster, Strummer the womanizer, and Strummer the poseur, whom his mates could only really talk to when no one else was around.
  9. The film is a rigorously thorough biography and an impassioned accolade. Temple spends as much time on Strummer's life before and after the Clash as he does charting the band's powerful musical and political influence.
  10. One artist's moving tribute to another.
  11. 78
    Like an early Clash number, it's by turns lovely and ugly, loud as bombs and quiet as a revolution's first-thrown stone; it acknowledges the legend while uncovering the truth.
  12. Reviewed by: Greg Kot
    Its moving narrative requires little in the way of embellishment, but Temple’s documentary sometimes becomes too clever for its own good.
  13. The movie fascinates not so much because of Strummer, whose brooding temperament and flash-and-burn career arc seems pretty routine by rock standards, but because of the way Temple organized and edited the film.
  14. 75
    Compelling viewing, even for people who don't care a bit for the punk scene.
  15. Reviewed by: Joel Selvin
    One of the most direct and personal music documentaries ever made.
  16. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    At its best, it throbs with immediacy, just as Strummer did.
  17. Reviewed by: Jim Ridley
    Temple's engrossing portrait of the Clash's late frontman uses endlessly suggestive montage to show how he kept punk's precepts alive, even after he left the music and eventually the earth itself.
  18. At least the movie never bogs down. But you only get a taste of what made the Clash for a brief period the most exciting band on that side of the Atlantic.
  19. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Thirty years down the line, not everyone looks as they once did, so even fans will have trouble putting names to aged faces. Newcomers, meanwhile, will feel hopelessly shut out.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 3
  2. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. AndrewF.
    Apr 4, 2008
    I'm surprised to see the positive reviews. I felt the film was a sprawling mess that didn't engage. By the end, I was tired of all the nameless faces, poor sound mixing, and the endless montage. My friend who adores Strummer felt he didn't learn anything that any fan would already know. Myself, who knows nothing of Strummer, felt drowned in a sea of confusion. We both felt bored. Full Review »
  2. NikkiIkki
    Dec 13, 2007
    Wonderful! Just Wonderful!
  3. keithB.
    Dec 7, 2007
    I had high expectations from the maker of the Filth and the Fury, a real masterpiece. Julien Temple follows up with another excellent doc but at one point I started to think something's not quite right. Ok, the campfire testimonials was pretty bad. But more than that it was the relentlessness of the pacing that didn't work: kind of like watching a train go by, the cars one after another after another. Sorry Julien, I nodded off at one point. Full Review »