Mixed or average reviews - based on 32 Critics What's this?

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Mixed or average reviews- based on 48 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Nov 28, 2013
    Mr. Elba’s towering performance lends “Long Walk to Freedom” a Shakespearean breadth.
  2. 75
    Looming large above this “Long Walk” is Elba, in a mostly still performance, one of quietly compelling authority that dominates every moment.
  3. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Dec 24, 2013
    British-born director Justin Chadwick might not seem the most logical choice to bring Mandela’s life to the screen, but he handles the historical sweep and the intimate moments with equal steadiness.
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Nov 27, 2013
    A long slog of a movie that insists on hitting the high spots like a Wiki page, which leaves little room to investigate the political and personal changes that altered Mandela's thoughts about violence and its uses.
  5. Reviewed by: Dave Calhoun
    Nov 26, 2013
    Bold performance or not, you can see history weighing heavily on Elba’s shoulders (in later scenes as an older man, you can see the makeup, too).
  6. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Dec 18, 2013
    It’s too bad, then, that Justin Chadwick’s film does not offer a more substantial portrait of the man, whose passing is a fresh wound to mourners and curious onlookers worldwide.
  7. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Nov 23, 2013
    A cursory history lesson with no interest in probing the deeper or more complex implications of Mandela's positions and their relationship to his country's shifting landscape.

See all 32 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. Dec 19, 2013
    My parents and I LOVED this movie. Reminded us of Gandhi both the film (brilliant acting, fascinating history) and the man. We highly recommended it!
  2. chw
    Oct 18, 2014
    Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom was very slow for the first forty five minutes, but it started to get better and better, and throughout it all it was VERY well acted. Expand
  3. Dec 28, 2013
    The title pretty much sums it up: a walk with Nelson from rural boyhood to his election as South Africa's first democratically-elected president. Much of the journey is taken up with his early fight against apartheid and the subsequent 22 years in jail. To anyone who hasn't read the autobiography on which the film is based, this will provide interesting details about his personal life and political struggles. Although Idris Elba (Mandela) and Naomie Harris (his wife Winnie) both create rich characters and the narrative is compelling, the whole thing lacks emotional power. The prison years are the most absorbing. It should take 2+ hours to chronicle a great man's life, but it feels too long and sometimes too simplistic. Still, an informative history lesson. Expand
  4. Jan 9, 2014
    Very powerful film, especially visually. The only thing that bugged me was how Idris Alba looked towards the end of the film. I was able to withstand his supreme masculinity throughout the film until that moment. Collapse
  5. Sep 20, 2014
    Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom tells of the lengthy path toward ending apartheid and the racial war in South Africa

    The title of the
    Nelson Mandela biopic is befitting of the arduous task faced by Mr. Mandela. Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom tells of the lengthy path toward ending apartheid and the racial war in South Africa spanning some seventy years from childhood to inauguration.

    Most people know Nelson Mandela as he was portrayed by the media later in life; the seemingly soft spoken man who emerged from prison, endearingly called Madiba by his people. The Nelson Mandela portrayed by Idris Elba in Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom is a far more complex person, realistic and humanistic. Idris Elba does a commendable job at portraying Mandela though I found his accent to be a bit distracting. The acting is sublime by Naomie Harris who plays Winnie, Mandela’s second wife and I am disheartened that she was not formally recognized with a nomination for best supporting actress. There is something about the movie that feels slightly disconnected, as though character development was missing. I believe the issue with character development arises out of the inability to properly convey the urgency in needing change in South Africa. South Africa’s desperation and growth from apartheid is just as important as a character, and being a story about Nelson Mandela, the plot’s focus is lacking clarity. The story spans from Mandela’s childhood to inauguration, some seven decades, and in the process feels a bit slow moving, a highlight reel of sorts.

    It is a difficult task but marvelous attempt leaving the viewer with a good drama that feels like a historical documentary. In the end you feel as though you know Nelson Mandela but only part of the story of South Africa.

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  6. Jan 9, 2014
    It feels like the film builds to a climax that never arrives. The film does feature two great performances from Elba and Harris, the depictions of the race war and racism in South Africa is well handled, especially how out of control things got around the time of Mandela's release. There are some scenes which are great unto themselves such as Mandela's trial, several scenes during Mandela's time on Robben Island, Mandela greeting the people as the first black president as he is respectfully saluted by his white staff members and so forth. The final scene in particular had some great soul to it, and Elba's perfectly delivered monologue of one of Mandela's most famous quotes was very moving.

    Having said that, the film suffers from the problem of trying to cram too much detail and information about Mandela's story in South Africa into a two hour film, and, as a result, several scenes which could have built up to something poignant or could have been fleshed out are quickly glossed over. These scenes include but are not limited to the Sharpeville Massacre and the resulting wave of protest and oppression, Mandela's trial itself, his imprisonment on Robben Island, and the final stages from his release to his ascendancy to presidency.

    As a result, the film feels like there's a lot of plot to it, but not a lot of story, as if the film is running by a tick box list. "Oh, we did Sharpeville, good, let's move on. Oh, we did Mandela's trial, okay let's move on". No one moment is really given any real chance to shine, it feels like there's no real substance or consequence to them in terms of the characters and situation on screen. As a result, the final climax Mandela ascending to presidency when it comes, doesn't carry the emotional punch that it should.

    Despite these problems, I would still recommend that people would watch this film at least once.
  7. Jan 24, 2014
    This film made me cold and I'm so sorry because that. Mandela's death in last year it was a tragic event and I think that film is opportunistic. It seems a made-for-TV film. Idris Elba is great with Mandela role but makeup is unbelievable. Sorry, Mandela merits better films. Expand

See all 10 User Reviews