Mixed or average reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 27
  2. Negative: 6 out of 27
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  1. Reviewed by: Milton Kent
    Much of Light It Up has a familiar feel. But there are enough redeeming insights to make the time you spend at this school worthwhile.
  2. Reviewed by: Phoebe Flowers
    Heartbreaking and sometimes dazzlingly effective, the film still has flaws -- most of them in a too-often-maudlin script.
  3. This is a good-hearted movie that unfortunately is wildly implausible and makes no sense.
  4. Reviewed by: Phoebe Flowers
    The protagonists of Light It Up seem strangely tender and vulnerable, and the movie, if heavy-handed at times, does a remarkable job of making their plight moving.
  5. At all times, the audience believes that it's watching something that really could happen.
  6. A tough little hostage thriller with crackling dialogue, surprising intelligence and an emotional wallop.
  7. It has moments of effectiveness, some of the performances -- especially Whitaker and Robert Ri'chard -- are moving.
  8. 63
    If I can't quite recommend the movie, it's because so much of the plot is on autopilot. The dialogue spells out too much that doesn't need to be said.
  9. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Light It Up isn't a great movie, but it's a cut above most so-called urban thrillers.
  10. Reviewed by: Tom Keogh
    Look to the cast as the best reason to see this film.
  11. Reviewed by: Nicole Campos
    Little more than a movie of the week with slick visuals and an amped soundtrack.
  12. Reviewed by: Gary Dauphin
    Unexpectedly satisfying feel-good agitprop.
  13. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    It's a bit of 60s idealism wedged in what basically looks like a hip-hop music video.
  14. Reviewed by: David Ehrenstein
    The real find-- is Rosario Dawson, who has appeared to good effect in previous smaller roles ("Kids," "He Got Game") and just about walks off with the movie.
  15. A hostage drama, cliches intact, is what we get.
  16. The passionate and carnivalesque sense of politics reminded me at times of "Dog Day Afternoon," but despite the absence of cynicism this is a 90s story in every sense of the word
  17. A laughably disconnected hostage drama that rails against the perceived nightmare of inner-city public schools.
  18. Turns out to be a pretentiously righteous drama that drowns any claim to serious attention in a sea of superficial characters.
  19. Reviewed by: Eliza Truitt
    Singer Usher Raymond earns praise as the leader of the group, but the rest of the cast goes largely unnoticed.
  20. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    Never quite catches fire in its too-deliberate attempt to appeal to all ages and all tastes.
  21. 40
    Benefits from affecting performances from a gifted cast headed by R&B heartthrob Usher Raymond.
  22. 38
    Light It Up would be a strong candidate for the year's most irresponsible movie - if it were remotely believable.
  23. Reviewed by: Matt Kelsey
    Would have been better suited as a television movie of the week.
  24. The story is irresponsible and the filmmaking is awful.
  25. 23
    A shovelful of silly manure from the get-go.
  26. 20
    It's a hockey affair at the best of times.
  27. As an actor, Raymond is whiny and annoying, but not nearly so much as the film.

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