Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: Peter Sobczynski
    Apr 11, 2014
    100
    If your moviegoing needs are driven less by a need to "feel good" afterwards and more by a desire to see something that will grab and touch you in ways that you will not be shaking anytime soon, this is the movie for you.
  2. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Apr 10, 2014
    100
    Nicolas Cage delivers what may his best, most nuanced performance yet in the gritty, hypnotic and deeply moving Joe.
  3. Reviewed by: Geoff Pevere
    May 2, 2014
    88
    None of this would work with anywhere near the power it does without Nicolas Cage, whom Green has smartly cast in this sometimes maddeningly erratic and ill-disciplined actor’s most perfectly suited role since "Leaving Las Vegas" and "Adaptation."
  4. 88
    Joe is the movie that will make you remember how good Nicolas Cage once was and can be again.
  5. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Sep 16, 2013
    83
    If Joe marks a new beginning for some of its characters, the same description applies to its director and star.
  6. Reviewed by: Oliver Lyttelton
    Sep 16, 2013
    83
    It’s not exactly doing anything new, but it’s a muscular and textured piece of work that shifts assuredly through tones and genre, features a rich and rewarding performance from Cage, and another excellent turn from his young co-star Tye Sheridan.
  7. Reviewed by: David Hughes
    Jul 21, 2014
    80
    An understated Nicolas Cage — there’s a phrase you don’t get to write too often these days — anchors a superbly realised film, which, like its eponymous hero, has a brittle outer shell concealing a surprisingly warm heart.
  8. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    May 16, 2014
    80
    The result is intense and powerful, a full-color portrait of the importance of never surrendering.
  9. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Apr 17, 2014
    80
    Cage is getting down and dirty again in Joe, and it's pretty remarkable — the performance more so than the film, and the film's good.
  10. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Apr 12, 2014
    80
    Yet Joe, directed by David Gordon Green, succeeds. Although Green's resume has been as up and down as that of his leading man, his eye for decay has rarely blurred; and now, you sense, he has come to the right place. [14 April 2014, p.87]
  11. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Apr 10, 2014
    80
    Mr. Cage gives his most committed performance in years as this divided soul, but it still looks like acting when compared with Mr. Poulter’s embodiment of pure evil.
  12. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Apr 10, 2014
    80
    A beautiful film, shot by Tim Orr, that is elevated by Mr. Cage's stirring portrait of a violence-prone man who can't restrain himself from doing good.
  13. Reviewed by: Amy Nicholson
    Apr 8, 2014
    80
    Joe is Cage's periodic reminder that he's one of his generation's great talents.
  14. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Apr 8, 2014
    80
    Joe’s brilliance doesn’t lie in its destination, but in the gripping, intense, surprisingly joyous and funny journey it takes to get there.
  15. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Sep 16, 2013
    80
    Cage, not one known for subtlety of late, is truly great in this sad, funny and tender role.
  16. Reviewed by: Xan Brooks
    Sep 16, 2013
    80
    Joe also stands as a reminder of what a terrific actor Cage can be when he is able to harness and channel his wilder impulses.
  17. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Apr 9, 2014
    78
    As for the Austin-based Green, the director’s characteristically understated style is well-suited to this material. Joe recalls, in many ways, the filmmaker’s earliest features – "George Washington," "All the Real Girls," and "Undertow" – not to mention his heavily wooded last feature, "Prince Avalanche," films that capture a poetic sense of bewildered young people in the rural South.
  18. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Apr 11, 2014
    75
    This world feels studied in its "authenticity": the rusted GMC pickup, the tumbledown shack, the boozy brothel, and angry Joe Ransom guttin' deer and tending to his own gunshot wounds with a grimace and a bottle of alcohol.
  19. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Apr 11, 2014
    75
    Sheridan, so good in "Mud" with Matthew McConaughey, excels here as a vulnerable sapling.
  20. Reviewed by: Bill Stamets
    Apr 10, 2014
    75
    Gripping and at times agonizing.
  21. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Apr 10, 2014
    75
    As Wade, Gary Poulter is the most authentic-looking old drunk you'll ever see onscreen - something I thought before I knew the story of his casting: Poulter was a homeless man who was recruited by a casting director. He'd never acted before, and yet he's remarkable in this.
  22. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Apr 10, 2014
    75
    Green’s movies rarely play out in conventional ways, and Joe, too, surprises in the end.
  23. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Apr 10, 2014
    75
    Joe works better as a study of character and environment than as the thriller it tries to become in its final act.
  24. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Apr 9, 2014
    75
    For two hours or so, he becomes a magnetic actor again, the same vibrant presence who wowed audiences with his work in "Leaving Las Vegas" and "Adaptation." He is, in these rare instances, just plain good.
  25. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Apr 9, 2014
    75
    Both Cage and Sheridan (who shined opposite Matthew McConaughey in Mud) give true and at times tender performances. It's a shame the film lacks the same subtlety and force.
  26. Reviewed by: David Lee Dallas
    Apr 6, 2014
    75
    Director David Gordon Green finds a balance between symbolism and realism in his storytelling that allows the film to be many things at once.
  27. 70
    You can be of two minds about the movie’s climax without shame. It’s galvanizing and, after all the accumulated tension, longed-for. And it’s too easy. And it’s rousingly well done. And it’s cheap. And that’s what makes the vigilante myth so vexing.
  28. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Apr 10, 2014
    70
    Though Joe occasionally slips and falters, the filmmakers and actors get all the hard-luck details right.
  29. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Sep 16, 2013
    70
    Where it really works is in Cage's bone-deep characterization of a man at war with himself.
  30. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Apr 10, 2014
    63
    While Green is force-feeding us this hard-boiled hokum, he doesn’t distract us with many memorable images, as he did in his earliest films.
  31. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Apr 10, 2014
    60
    Joe and director David Gordon Green find a middle ground between the old, vulnerable Cage and the one that seemed to eat that other guy. Good to have him back.
  32. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Apr 8, 2014
    60
    Yet Green, as is his wont, too often strains for poetic effect through flowery voiceover and tone-deaf interactions — like those between Joe and his latest short-term girlfriend — that undercut the genuineness.
  33. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Sep 16, 2013
    60
    A patiently observed, often unsettlingly violent drama that can’t help but feel overly familiar in some of its particulars, rich in rural texture but low on narrative momentum or surprise.
  34. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    Sep 16, 2013
    60
    Joe represents a return to the independent-spirited storytelling that characterised Green’s early career.
  35. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Apr 9, 2014
    50
    David Gordon Green’s Joe largely succeeds in immersing us in a rural world of cruelty, ugliness, decay, neglect and aggression, but if there is a point to it all, I couldn’t find it.
  36. Reviewed by: Peter Keough
    Apr 10, 2014
    38
    Joe is one more in the line of Southern Gothic miserabilism that includes “Winter’s Bone” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” films that many have praised but some find condescending.
User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 77 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 13
  2. Negative: 2 out of 13
  1. Apr 29, 2014
    7
    What a Gripping movie it dose not disappoint but at times falls below the belt. Nicolas Cage always seems to bring out the best in movies like such as these.

    Maki
    Full Review »
  2. May 17, 2014
    3
    Yes it looks and feels very real but this movie is really not as good as people say, its actually quite boring. I couldn't even make it to the end! Nick cage gives a good performance but unfortunally its not enough to keep you engaged. Full Review »
  3. Aug 14, 2014
    6
    This one has many things going for it, but ultimately, does not live up to those parts. Firstly, the acting across the board is great. Nicolas Cage proves he still has it in 2014, Tye Sheridan is great, and Greg Poulter (RIP) is great in his only role ever. The look and feel of this one is very realistic thanks to the alright direction from David Gordon Green and the great cinematography. However, the ultimate undoing of this one is that while it is always interesting, there is just not enough happening. I cannot really point to ways in which these characters changed throughout the film, rather they seem to be about the same. In addition, the plot does not really do much and does have much depth to it. Thus, this film is essentially about a man who takes a kid under his wing, which is a film we have seen many times, such as Mud, which sounds very similar on paper and takes the elements it has and does brilliant things with them. Here, however, Joe squanders all of its good parts and winds up just being "ok". I cannot be mad at it, because it is enjoyable, but there is just not much to write home about here. Full Review »