Mixed or average reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 31
  2. Negative: 10 out of 31
  1. But the single most compelling performance may belong to Australian actor Guy Pearce.
  2. The drama ultimately retreats to safer, duller, more illogical, and more reactionary impulses and stereotypes.
  3. 70
    Worth it, though, for the conviction and ramrod-erect bearing that pros Jackson and Jones bring to their roles.
  4. 70
    Friedkin turns on the juice and Jones and Jackson let it rip.
  5. 63
    Works splendidly as a courtroom thriller about military values as long as you don't expect it to seriously consider those values.
  6. As mechanical and predictable as a cuckoo clock, it shouldn't work half as well as it does.
  7. The setup doesn't make sense from the get-go.
  8. Reviewed by: Ted Gideonse
    Jones even manages to save this somewhat tiring film.
  9. Friedkin does a superb job of serving up the well-appointed script by James Webb and Stephen Gaghan.
  10. Written with such murderous gravity, certainty and gloomy solemnity - such an absence of real life or feeling - that it tends to kill our interest.
  11. 50
    It's bottom-feeder entertainment wrapped up in high-minded airs.
  12. Sometimes, movies would work better if you couldn't see them.
  13. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    The sentiments here are thoroughly semper fi, but the result occasionally works at cross-purposes.
  14. This military courtroom drama is full of questions, but woefully short of answers.
  15. 50
    It's a deftly executed crowd-pleaser, but it's dishonest to the core.
  16. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    What rescues the movie, time and again, is the strength of Jones' and Jackson's performances.
  17. Passable, moderately diverting dramatic entertainment.
  18. 50
    There's not much going on here, and there is little suspense.
  19. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    A broad and obvious approach to ambiguous material that's virtually all plot mechanics with little nuance or characterization.
  20. It's amazing the filmmakers never really concern themselves with satisfying the audience's rules of engagement.
  21. It is the verdict of this court that it be led to a stockade reserved exclusively for cheap, pandering movies and duly shot.
  22. Reviewed by: Richard T. Jameson
    Pearce is shot in such distorting closeups that he looks like an overdeveloped athlete who's been getting steroid injections in his cheeks.
  23. A casualty of its own clumsy storytelling.
  24. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Strenuously as it tries, and pulse-poundingly successful as the embassy rescue scene is, Rules of Engagement never engages us.
  25. 35
    Formulaic and pretty darn plodding.
  26. Reviewed by: Barry Johnson
    Plays like an episode of "JAG," the naval courtroom TV series. A L-O-N-G episode.
  27. 30
    It just doesn't work. Worse, it's downright offensive.
  28. Spoiled by its simplistic portrait of people from the Mideast as incorrigibly violent and untrustworthy.
  29. A wildly dull, predictable script whose holes seem to be courtesy of random sniper fire.
  30. By the time the film plummets to its rock bottom, we find ourselves in a flag-waving no-brainer of the first order, and one of the most thoroughly confused morality tales in recent memory.
  31. The clichés lap like bay waves, from the salutes to the brotherly brawl to the olive-oil tear streaks semipermanently painted down Jackson's cheeks.

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