Mixed or average reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 15
  2. Negative: 1 out of 15

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Critic Reviews

  1. Using documentary-style Super 16 film and staged cutaway interviews with friends and family, James and his photographer and co-producer, Peter Gilbert, fashioned a movie with an affecting, candid look.
  2. 75
    What sets Prefontaine aside from most sports movies is that it's not about winning the big race. It's about the life of a runner.
  3. But then, just when it appears the race is lost, Steve James' love for his character and art form kicks in and wins the day, and, though flawed, Prefontaine is an engrossing portrait of a complex figure.
  4. USA Today
    Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    His complex personality comes through in this surprisingly affecting minor pleasure, though perhaps one shouldn't be surprised when two of Hoop Dreams' key makers reunite for another smart sports pic. [24Jan1997 Pg.03.D]
  5. Reviewed by: Gary Kamiya
    This is filmmaking in a higher-IQ Disney style, frequently verging on terminal sappiness, all heart-quickening-guitar-music, coming-around-the-last-turn, legs-pumping-toward-glory stuff.
  6. 70
    But at best, the movie has an air of immediacy, freeing it from the ossified myth-making that plagues many true-life biopics.
  7. 67
    This successful characterization is definitely a team effort among actor Jared Leto (the brooding Jordan Catalano of television's "My So-Called Life"), writers James and Eugene Corr, cinematographer Peter Gilbert, and musical director Mason Daring.
  8. 63
    For the most part, the documentary segments, in addition to being unilluminating, are intrusive.
  9. 60
    As the driven competitor who learns to make hubris work for him, Jared Leto gives a complex performance that suggests a deep, intriguing interior to the character even as he maintains a convincing one-dimensional facade.
  10. But in this standard athlete-dies-young presentation, we never do catch the magic that made Steve Prefontaine a towering figure. Instead, this Pre is a shaggy-haired, sentimental favorite -- a teen angel rather than an Olympian.
  11. Though it is always pleasant and agreeable, this film has the bland and undemanding texture that characterizes movies made for network TV.
  12. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    This first dramatic feature by "Hoop Dreams" director Steve James has one foot still squarely planted in the docu aesthetic and notably lacks any psychological interest or emotional depth.
  13. Steve Prefontaine must have been something special -- everyone says so -- but there's no magic on the screen.
  14. But even after the documentary affectation gives way to a more conventional narrative, the film has trouble ringing true.
  15. The acting ranges from adequate (Jared Leto, R. Lee Ermey) to awful (Lindsay Crouse and everyone else).

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 7 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Feb 24, 2013
    While there seem to be many different opinions on weather or not the facts in the film are accurate, the fact remains that this was aWhile there seem to be many different opinions on weather or not the facts in the film are accurate, the fact remains that this was a fantastic movie that perfectly illustrated the drive and determination that made Pre a national icon. Jared Leto is amazing as well. Based on his other works, to be honest, I didn't think he was a good choice to play Steve Prefontaine, but he really surprised me and does an Oscar worthy job with this role. Prefontaine is inspirational and a great tribute to a great man. I would defiantly suggest seeing it! Full Review »