Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
Watch On
  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.
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 54 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 1 out of 11
  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. Mar 13, 2015
    8
    Prison is tough but Starred Up shows us how tough and brutal prison really is and why you shouldn't go there, I mean why would you?

    The
    Prison is tough but Starred Up shows us how tough and brutal prison really is and why you shouldn't go there, I mean why would you?

    The story is about a troubled and explosively violent teenager is transferred to adult prison where he finally meets his match - a man who also happens to be his father.

    I sawed Starred Up about two months ago now and more I think about it and analyzed the movie deep into it's bone to get my thoughts together. Because I didn't know what to think of it at the first time watch. There was no good or bad came to my head first time seeing it so this is why pretty much I waited months to think through, because I not going to review this film and not know what to say. But now I can safely and happily say that this movie is a shot by shot real like look at prison, and Starred Up got it right and this is a good movie.

    Jack O'Connell so far in his career has won me over has a actor himself from his excellent performance in the Angelina Jolie film Unbroken. In this he delivered such a hard hitting performance that worked so extremely well with his character in the film. You can see the boiling violence in his character has it quickly starts to build up and it doesn't really take long for him to snap and go full psycho on people, and Jack O'Connell put so much into his performance for now I respect has a full movie actor.

    The movie is directed really good as well, keeping your interest till the end of the film.

    For issues I have some: The supporting character in the film are great, but they was a couple of weak spots with the other character's not being interesting at all and not really doing anything with the story.

    Is this film re-watchable? no not really. It's one of those films that you think to yourself "Wow that was pretty damn good, but I never want to watch it again", yeah it's those kind of films. You may disagree with me and you may have watched the movie a couple of times now, but for me it's not very re-watchable. If you disagree with me on that then that's fine, it really is.

    Overall Starred Up is a gritty, hash, tough movie with great acting and a good story about father and son in prison. That may sound not good at all with the father and son thing in prison, but watch the film and judge for yourself.
    Full Review »
  3. Jan 26, 2015
    7
    Starred up is probably what you would expect of a drama in British prison.You have very good stroyline with very good conception and perfectlyStarred up is probably what you would expect of a drama in British prison.You have very good stroyline with very good conception and perfectly directing.The actors are very impressive quite cleverly they drawn us to the point of the movie .Maybe in the movie there was a some cliches but thats not a big deal in picture of the good movie . Full Review »