Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Aug 26, 2014
    100
    This is an unsparing picture, one whose violence, though deftly handled, is bone-crunchingly rough. Yet its emotional contours are surprisingly delicate, thanks, in large part to O’Connell’s performance.
  2. Reviewed by: Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
    Aug 27, 2014
    91
    It’s a credit to both Mackenzie’s talent as a director of actors and to the underlying humaneness of his vision that he argues that the right option is the more difficult and less predictable one — and that he does so without relying on sentimentality, unearned sympathy, or a happy ending.
  3. Reviewed by: Jessica Kiang
    Mar 18, 2014
    91
    The supporting cast all do excellent work too, but this is Eric’s story, and so it’s O’Connell’s film. His performance is a revelation.
  4. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Mar 18, 2014
    91
    Mackenzie (whose previous credits include "Perfect Sense" and "Young Adam") applies a sharp kitchen sink realism to this haunting setting and directs it toward an ultimately moving family drama that just happens to involve vicious convicts.
  5. 90
    Starred Up is an edgy, teeming thriller, brilliantly disorienting, making strange a world we thought we knew, at least from other movies.
  6. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Aug 28, 2014
    90
    Director David Mackenzie's gripping, convincing and convincingly violent convict drama owes its authenticity largely to the experiences of ex-prison therapist Jonathan Asser, who wrote its screenplay. But the opening 10 minutes are a virtuosic example of virtually wordless filmmaking.
  7. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Aug 28, 2014
    90
    The most tremendous thing about Starred Up is exactly how simple it keeps things, and what a richly nuanced story emerges in the process.
  8. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Aug 26, 2014
    90
    Though it is, finally, an affecting story of two damaged men bound by blood and something like love (and also a thrillerish catalog of double crosses and shifting allegiances), it is, above all, a study in the patterns of chaos that govern penitentiary life.
  9. Reviewed by: Brian Tallerico
    Aug 28, 2014
    88
    Starred Up is HEAVY with slang and accents. You won’t understand a third of it. But there’s so much going on in between the lines of dialogue that you won’t care.
  10. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Aug 28, 2014
    88
    O'Connell, soon to head the cast of Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken," explodes onscreen in a star-is-born performance. Starred Up is a small indie film in danger of slipping through the cracks at the Hollywood-driven multiplex.
  11. Reviewed by: Elise Nakhnikian
    Aug 26, 2014
    88
    The cautious optimism with which it answers questions about rehabilitation and forgiveness is credible because the characters and setting feel so thoroughly authentic.
  12. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Sep 11, 2014
    80
    It's almost as difficult to sit through Starred Up as it is satisfying to watch it.
  13. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Sep 8, 2014
    80
    At first, you may think, Oh, it’s that damn prison movie again, but Starred Up has a much more intimate texture of affection and disdain than most genre films. You’re held by every exchange, every fight.
  14. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Aug 28, 2014
    80
    Thematically tough and emotionally rough, Starred Up is the kind of movie you might enter into with some reluctance. But because everyone involved does such an outstanding job, it's also the kind of movie you won't want to see end.
  15. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Mar 18, 2014
    80
    The pic owes its believability to Asser, who served as a therapist similar to Oliver’s character, drawing from his experience to shape the world. Asser brings more than just realism, however, crafting the central father-son relationship on the foundation of classical Greek tragedy.
  16. Reviewed by: Kevin Harley
    Mar 17, 2014
    80
    The details ring true and the performances smart in Mackenzie’s prison movie. You wouldn’t meet Jack O’Connell’s tasty glare in a boozer, but try taking your eyes off him here.
  17. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Mar 17, 2014
    80
    A brutal, immersive prison survival story with a breakout performance by British actor Jack O’Connell.
  18. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Sep 25, 2014
    75
    A potent and disturbing experience. Fortunately it’s much more, offering sharp performances and genuine drama.
  19. Reviewed by: David Hiltbrand
    Sep 5, 2014
    75
    The raw emotions on display need no translation. David Mackenzie directs the film in a piercingly realistic style. His ingenious decision to forgo a score makes Starred Up even more immersive, because all you hear is the dehumanizing din of prison.
  20. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Aug 27, 2014
    75
    Like Eric Bana's menacingly raw breakout in 2000's "Chopper" or Tom Hardy's in 2008's "Bronson," O'Connell bristles with terrifying hair-trigger unpredictability. Watching him, you feel like you're witnessing the arrival of a new movie star.
  21. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Mar 18, 2014
    70
    Some years from now, Starred Up, a rough, violent and, to American ears, half-indecipherable British prison drama, will be remembered as the film that announced a new star, Jack O’Connell.
  22. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Sep 18, 2014
    63
    For all its savagery and hopelessness, Starred Up manages to be sympathetic, not only because of O’Connell’s galvanizing turn, but also Asser and director David Mackenzie’s unwavering commitment to portraying his character with as much compassion as brutal honesty.
  23. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Sep 26, 2014
    60
    Starred Up isn't just violence for violence's sake. Rather, it is a surprisingly layered, hard-hitting human drama, one that cuts to the bone -- albeit with a homemade prison knife.
  24. Reviewed by: Daniel Green
    Aug 26, 2014
    60
    Having constructed such a dramatically enticing set-up, it's thus disappointing to see Mackenzie fall back on familiar generic tropes with such a frustrating sense of inevitability.
  25. Reviewed by: Tim Robey
    Mar 18, 2014
    60
    It's halfway-strong, just under-dramatised; goodness, though, if it doesn't show what O'Connell is capable of.
  26. Reviewed by: Tom Huddleston
    Mar 18, 2014
    60
    It’s disappointing when Starred Up begins to lapse into soapy cliché.
User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 34 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 1 out of 7
  1. Aug 27, 2014
    10
    Smart script, powerful story from start to finish, realistic style and terrific performance from Jack O'Connell, MacKenzie successfully makesSmart script, powerful story from start to finish, realistic style and terrific performance from Jack O'Connell, MacKenzie successfully makes "Starred Up" hitting your feeling and your mind as hard as the prison life always be. It's easily one of the best prison drama film I ever seen. Full Review »
  2. Sep 22, 2014
    8
    The latest British prison movie, which was partially based on the true story. The whole movie was shot inside a prison evolving into depictingThe latest British prison movie, which was partially based on the true story. The whole movie was shot inside a prison evolving into depicting the prison life. When a young, but a violent crime offender, Eric been transformed into an adult penitentiary, he meets his compeer. His strength will be tested against his counterparts who are two times older than him. The young fellow all prepared to face the most dangerous criminals from the country. Thus his restless days begin to fight for survival. He signs for therapy meet which is forced by his father who is also an inmate. Like all the father, the story describes his role as a protector. Definitely not a melodrama, but deliberately aggressive and he can do anything to defend his son.

    ‘‘Starred up means you are leader.’’

    Impressive tricks by the felons who hide their weapons and other stuffs which can be useful for their defense. There is no exact story, scene by scene, it just replicates the real prison's daily activities and experiences that one can go through. It is not a greatest prison story ever told, but the contents were so powerful, like, as I said it was kind of inspired by a real person's. Jack O'Connell was unbelievably good in his role. He's having a wonderful time right now and I am eager for his next venture 'Unbroken'. The other characters were not that exposed as he was, but given equal good performances. I have not seen any prison related movie recently and this movie surprisingly met above my expectation.

    7.5/10
    Full Review »
  3. Sep 7, 2014
    9
    It's an outstanding movie and the conversation starts and finishes with the brilliant cast. Both father and son are incredibly good. It almostIt's an outstanding movie and the conversation starts and finishes with the brilliant cast. Both father and son are incredibly good. It almost feels like we're watching an entire season of Oz and one nice two hour chunk. This one is absolutely worth seeing on the big screen if it's playing in your neck of the woods. Full Review »