Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 35
  2. Negative: 2 out of 35
  1. 91
    Stop-Loss is a human story first and foremost, and Peirce and her stellar young cast ensure that the message never gets in the way of the storytelling.
  2. 88
    Even when the script slips into sentiment, Peirce sticks with her troubled, questing soldiers, and through this raw and riveting movie, they stick with us.
  3. Stop-Loss carries the emotional force and propulsive drama of the quintessential soldier's story.
  4. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    It's a richly textured, psychologically acute film that takes an unblinking look at the tattered life of the returning soldier, and it's boosted by two powerful performances from Phillippe and the increasingly impressive Tatum, a former underwear model who has somehow turned into a fine actor.
  5. There's little time for nuance in Stop-Loss, and it doesn't deny any of the film's power to wish Peirce would occasionally slow things down enough to let her audience ponder what they're seeing.
  6. Clearly, Peirce's motives are pure. She's not using the "stop-loss" issue as a wedge to make the government or the administration look bad. She's using it to dramatize an injustice and to advocate on behalf of the soldiers.
  7. It’s ironic that Stop-Loss loses its momentum when the characters go on the road. Yet Rasuk--the star of "Raising Victor Vargas"--gives a stunning performance.
  8. Stop-Loss is a film that does it right.
  9. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    A relentlessly grim film.
  10. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    It's a remarkably entertaining movie, thanks in part to a first-rate cast and a director who knows you can't make a point without calling everyone to attention.
  11. 70
    Stop-Loss is not a great movie, but it’s forceful, effective, and alive, with the raw, mixed-up emotions produced by an endless war.
  12. 67
    Phillippe does a dark, searing turn with a character that could have easily been little more than Taps-era hubris, and Gordon-Levitt, as one of King's more fragmented former charges, is riveting and convincingly small-town Texas.
  13. A painfully polite Iraq war drama pitched at the MTV generation.
  14. 67
    Pierce never pulls these pieces together satisfyingly, and the result is a botched effort to put a human face on a genuinely alarming situation.
  15. While there are good things about it, Stop-Loss is nothing spectacular.
  16. What we're left with is outrage in a vacuum. It's impossible to separate out the stop-loss tactic from the misadventures of the war itself, and that's what this film, to its discredit, accomplishes.
  17. Reviewed by: Jessica Reaves
    While Stop-Loss doesn’t pack anything like the emotional wallop of her previous film, the movies do share Peirce’s clear-eyed refusal to answer difficult questions with simplistic answers.
  18. Despite several attempts, we're still waiting for the drama that convincingly captures the experienc of soldiers who've fought in Iraq. Stop-Loss" isn't that film, but at the very least its efforts are honorable.
  19. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    It's an uneven experience, with some evocative moments and others that don't resonate as much as they should.
  20. Someone watching Stop-Loss with younger eyes might feel the heat of the main soldier's dilemma more than I did, but I couldn't help thinking director Kimberly Peirce was presenting us with abstract ideas in the forms of half-realized characters.
  21. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    A young cast and hotheaded melodramatic streak make it broadly accessible, perhaps enough so to help the film scrape past boxoffice challenges faced by other Iraq-centered features.
  22. 60
    Stop-Loss is a bit uneven. Mixed messages abound.
  23. Reviewed by: Helen O'Hara
    Strong performances from the young cast make a compelling case that the US govt is failing its soldiers, but the film’s a little too much of a blunt instrument.
  24. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    In the end, Stop-Loss's evening-news topicality proves both an asset and a liability--an irresolvable structural conundrum. Simply put, the film so effectively reconstitutes those Vietnam-homecoming touchstones that we can anticipate its every move well before it makes them.
  25. 60
    Ms. Peirce’s movie, which she wrote with Mark Richard, is not only an earnest, issue-driven narrative, but also a feverish entertainment, a passionate, at times overwrought melodrama gaudy with violent actions and emotions.
  26. 50
    An earnest and well-meaning but disappointing failure.
  27. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Heavy metal, alt-pop, southern rock, orchestral swells, wailing Middle Eastern tunes all vie for our attention, but none of this noise drowns out the sound of good intentions twisting themselves into an impotent knot.
  28. 50
    After a strong start, Stop-Loss becomes driven by a series of contrivances before falling prey to bad melodrama and even a little cheesiness.
  29. With the release of Stop-Loss, a precedent of sorts has definitely been set. If we've yet to see a brilliant Iraq movie, the wait is over for a bad one – this is it.
  30. Reviewed by: Joe Leydon
    A wildly uneven drama, by turns sincere and synthetic.
  31. Reviewed by: Joanne Kaufman
    Swamped by clichés, continuity problems, stock characters and very good intentions.
  32. 50
    Though its intentions are noble, it's hampered by a stock romantic subplot (Phillipe falls for his friend's squeeze, Abbie Cornish), a familiar structure (since The Best Years of Our Lives soldiers invariably come home in threes), and a lack of symmetry (some of Gordon-Levitt's story seems to have wound up on the cutting-room floor).
  33. 40
    A filmmaker's personal connection to the material doesn't necessarily mean that the resulting picture will be any good, and Stop-Loss is so dramatically tedious that it feels remote instead of resonant.
  34. Reviewed by: Aaron Hillis
    What little anti-war critique Peirce presents -- and she has it in her, which makes it all the more dubious -- gets trampled over by jingoistic Rambo porn.
  35. 25
    As phony as a re-enactment with finger pup pets.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 54 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 26
  2. Negative: 8 out of 26
  1. BillyS.
    Apr 2, 2008
    Who cares about the acting and accents and square dancing, when a movie about the War in Iraq within the first 10 minutes has the lead character saying "F**K the President" you're on to something! Unfortunatly, by the end, it all turns right back around to another We Are Americans and We Will Not Back Down, Bush worthy Rhetoric!!! Full Review »
  2. Jack
    Mar 24, 2008
    A simple minded embarrassment. I appreciate the notion of the film but the screenplay is just terrible - just a check list of war movie cliches. Very disappointing. Full Review »
  3. Jan 7, 2014
    War films are the speciality of Kathryn Bigelow which should stay so. It was a nice try of Kimberly Peirce, but nevertheless she should leave it to Bigelow and focus on movies like her best one "Boys Don't Cry". Full Review »