Metascore
65

Generally favorable reviews - based on 11 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 22 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: A fictionalized version of the murders of three civil rights activists on June 21, 1964 in Mississippi. The FBI comes in to solve the case and succeeds only after using unethical and illegal means. (MGM)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 11
  2. Negative: 2 out of 11
  1. 100
    Apart from its pure entertainment value - this is the best American crime movie in years - it is an important statement about a time and a condition that should not be forgotten. The Academy loves to honor prestigious movies in which long-ago crimes are rectified in far-away places. Here is a nominee with the ink still wet on its pages.
  2. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    100
    A powerful drama about the murder of three civil-rights workers in the South. Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe are FBI men investigating. A legitimate Oscar contender. [6 Jan 1989, p.5D]
  3. Reviewed by: Desson Howe
    90
    Mississippi Burning speeds down the complicated, painful path of civil rights in search of a good thriller. Surprisingly, it finds it
  4. 80
    Parker, a director of breadth, not depth, never supplies the big answers, but he does powerfully depict the climate of the Confederacy in the "Freedom Summer" of 1964.
  5. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    80
    Though its credibility is undermined by a fanciful ending, Mississippi Burning captures much of the truth in its telling of the impact of a 1964 FBI probe into the murders of three civil rights workers.
  6. Reviewed by: Judy Stone
    63
    Parker recreates the hate-and-fear-filled atmosphere in that small Southern town with broad brush strokes. But in the end, all of his spectacular fires send out a lot more heat than light. [13 Jan 1989, p.E1]
  7. The glorification of the FBI, the obfuscation about Jim Crow laws, and the absurd melodramatics may all have been well-intentioned, but the understanding about the past and the present of racism that emerges is depressingly thin.

See all 11 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Jan 4, 2013
    10
    This film is a classic. It is truly gripping with the detectives playing two sensational performances. In particular, the violent scene at the barbers shop is excellent. The film also plays with all the emotions and sometimes is painful to watch as we witness the cruelty and suffering caused by the KKK in Mississippi. Expand
  2. Jul 25, 2013
    9
    Although based on real events, the filmmakers go to great lengths to make it clear that this is a work of fiction. As such it works very well; it is a very powerful drama that puts the fight for civil rights to the fore. I must say I found it quite thought provoking, very well made and really well shot. The performances were all excellent with (for me), Gene Hackman standing out; although I thought Willem Dafoe was very good and Brad Dourif was excellent as the loathsome Deputy Pell. I also have to mention a couple of small roles; it was nice to see both Stephen Tobolowsky as Clayton Townley and R. Lee Ermey as Mayor Tilman; I know they didn’t have an awful lot to do, but they were both quality. Over all, an interesting drama that kept me interested all the way through a definite ‘must’ for any cinephile.

    SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

    My score: 8.7/10.
    Expand
  3. Jul 28, 2012
    5
    Comprised mostly of racial abuse and interrogations, this portrayal of a certain historical event is flawed because it is all jumbled together, thinly veiled as a historical masterpiece. The difficulty of using these racial themes within film is the accuracy that it is shown in order to be of certain historical value. It is one thing that you use an event from history and go slightly off track to improve it, it is another thing that you take an event from history and change it around into a complete mess that disrupts the perhaps flawless construction of history. Of course, this film is of little entertainment value, not because of the violent, horrific aspects, but because of the intensity. It wasn't all doom and gloom in the 1960's, but I suppose you could expect that from something titled 'Mississippi Burning'. At least the ending provided something a little more cheerful, despite the fact many people had been killed in the process. Collapse

See all 4 User Reviews