Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Aug 25, 2011
    80
    Kapadia does an outstanding job of getting at what Senna meant to Brazilians and to his sport. The man himself was a tougher nut to crack, but maybe that's best. A little mystery suits a good story, and Senna is definitely that.
  2. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Aug 18, 2011
    75
    The crash, lethal in an eye-blink, was hard to watch when I saw it live on television, and it's not any easier here. The day was clear – no rain in sight.
  3. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Sep 21, 2011
    75
    Senna himself gives it its heart. I just wish I'd gotten a better handle on who he was before the film's checkered flag falls.
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Sep 2, 2011
    100
    With such supercharged material under the hood, a magnetic man behind the wheel and a nimble director manning the pits, Senna is simply the greatest sports film I have ever seen.
  5. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Aug 25, 2011
    83
    In some ways, Senna is as pure and clean as the man's sport: as actor/racer Paul Newman liked to say, the winners of auto races are determined, unlike movies, by objective criteria. And although it's a subjective judgment, it's hard to see how anyone wouldn't be absorbed by this fascinating film about a formidable driver and man.
  6. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Aug 25, 2011
    88
    Senna is what film critics might call a TMSI movie, as in: Trust me, see it.
  7. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Aug 25, 2011
    78
    Undeniably gripping stuff.
  8. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Aug 18, 2011
    70
    Though the film immerses us in the details of Senna's life and the world of Formula One for 104 thrilling minutes, we leave still wondering both who Senna was and how Formula One racing works.
  9. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Aug 18, 2011
    88
    Exhilarating and tragic.
  10. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Aug 18, 2011
    75
    The movie's assemblage of audio interviews poured mostly over astounding race footage is fit for a shrine.
  11. Reviewed by: Ben Sachs
    Aug 18, 2011
    70
    Much of the film's impact comes from the nimble editing of Chris King (whose previous work includes Exit Through the Gift Shop) and Gregers Sall.
  12. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Aug 18, 2011
    88
    The film is a remarkable experience on a purely sensory level, and the best of its archival footage - on the track, in private meetings with drivers before the races, from the white-knuckle, over-the-shoulder perspective of Senna himself - is pure gold.
  13. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Aug 17, 2011
    63
    A documentary that does the job it sets out to do. I wish it had tried for more. It is a competent TV sports doc, the sort you'd expect to see on ESPN. Unless you are a big fan of Senna or Formula One, I don't know why you'd want to pay first-run prices to see it.
  14. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Aug 12, 2011
    75
    Not surprisingly, a documentary constructed entirely from newsreel footage proves inadequate to the task of sounding the depths of someone as complicated or driven (pun intended) as Senna.
  15. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Aug 12, 2011
    90
    You don't have to know or care anything about Formula One auto racing, or ever have heard of the legendary Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna, to become fully drawn into this film's universe.
  16. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Aug 12, 2011
    63
    It isn't every day that one witnesses, via a camera mounted with the driver, some of the final images in a man's life before he crashes into a wall at enormous speed. Whether you'll feel good about yourself after watching is up to you.
  17. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Aug 12, 2011
    60
    His years of success aren't as gripping as Kapadia, and Senna's legend, would have us believe. He had no demons besides fame, and no hurdles besides a recklessness that went with the territory.
  18. Reviewed by: Ian Buckwalter
    Aug 12, 2011
    85
    The truth may not be quite that simple, but Kapadia's slightly ecstatic version of it makes for gripping viewing.
  19. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Aug 11, 2011
    70
    As a personality profile, Senna is sketchy at best. Born into a well-to-do family in São Paulo, Brazil, Senna pursued the sport from a young age with a maniacal zeal. He comes across as a fatalistic daredevil and as a man of the people, his wealthy background aside.
  20. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Aug 11, 2011
    90
    A documentary with the pace of a thriller, a story of motors and machines that is beyond compelling because of the intensely human story it tells.
  21. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Aug 11, 2011
    90
    What's most rewarding, though, is that Mr. Senna speaks extensively and eloquently for himself, and reveals himself to be an eminently human hero. He's thoughtful, even philosophical, about decisions that deprive him of seemingly well-earned victories.
  22. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Aug 10, 2011
    91
    Senna is considered one of motorsporting's greats, but Asif Kapadia's film also makes it clear he was a sort of artist, his talent accompanied by an unquenchable thirst for excellence and a belief that racing offered him a connection to God.
  23. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Aug 10, 2011
    91
    With exemplary use of archival footage, director Asif Kapadia expertly contrasts episodes of adrenaline-rush speed with moments of reflective slow motion to capture the addictive thrill and danger of the sport, as well as the personal values of the humble, spiritual sportsman.
  24. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Aug 10, 2011
    100
    Phenomenally sad yet exhilarating.
  25. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    Aug 9, 2011
    80
    The aura of a life lived in extremis, undergirded by faith, clings to the film. Even nonbelievers in Senna's sport and church will find it difficult to visit Kapadia's cinematic shrine without emotion.
  26. Reviewed by: Una LaMarche
    Aug 9, 2011
    50
    Senna's accomplishments are impressive, but his story seems more suited to an ESPN special than a feature-length film.
  27. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Aug 8, 2011
    80
    Footage from an onboard camera thrillingly places the viewer in Senna's lap, and soberingly includes the accident that claimed his life.
  28. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Aug 8, 2011
    80
    Feels lavish by normal documentary standards and will have great appeal in such F1 hotbeds as Europe and South America.
  29. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    Aug 8, 2011
    80
    Ambitiously constructed, deeply compelling, thrilling and in no way only for those who like watching cars drive in circles. A worthy paean to a true talent.
  30. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Aug 8, 2011
    75
    Asif Kapadia's documentary is ultimately less affecting and insightful on a universal thematic scale than on an individual, personal one.
User Score
8.5

Universal acclaim- based on 62 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 22
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 22
  3. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Aug 15, 2011
    10
    I have never been an F1 fanatic, or been interested in cars, I do however possess a great passion for documentaries. For this reason I can say, without a doubt, that this is the best documentary I have ever seen. Full Review »
  2. Apr 29, 2013
    9
    A documentary that creates a surprising amount of tension, even though most of the audience knows the outcome. Senna is able to give an intriguing insight into the real Ayrton Senna, a man obsessed with his sport. A great documentary for fans of Formula 1 or not. Full Review »
  3. Oct 19, 2011
    10
    A fast and furious film that I really enjoyed but was also moving in parts, I loved it and after watching I wanted to watch it again and again. In one word, a triumph!!! Full Review »