Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    100
    Though there is plenty of gunplay, this is a wondrously contemplative and poetic saga that offers a fresh and bewitching take on a timeworn genre.
  2. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    100
    An extraordinary and visionary study of a legendary murderer’s famous fate, within touching distance of Oscars.
  3. The nervy style of this newfangled Western, with its eerie, insinuating score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, is so effective that long after Pitt and Affleck have left the screen, emotional disturbance lingers like gun smoke.
  4. 100
    A peculiar and destabilizing tone that's far from the standard Hollywood oater, but entirely fitting for two larger-than-life characters fulfilling their roles in history.
  5. Pitt won the Best Actor award at Venice for his Jesse...Yet it's Affleck who impresses most as the wary, skittish Bob.
  6. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    90
    One of the best Westerns of the 1970s, which represents the highest possible praise. It's a magnificent throwback to a time when filmmakers found all sorts of ways to refashion Hollywood's oldest and most durable genre.
  7. 88
    Artfully exciting and compulsively watchable even at a butt-numbing 152 minutes, the film makes good on the promise New Zealand writer-director Andrew Dominik showed with "Chopper" in 2000.
  8. 88
    Here is another Western in the classical tradition.
  9. It is a film, often breathtaking without settling for being pretty, filled with nervous silence.
  10. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    88
    Proceeds at a very stately pace, hoping the otherworldly mood of its detailed recreation of the old West might seep into the viewer's bones. This viewer did, as it happens, fall under the film's spell.
  11. 83
    Mournful and moody, crepuscular and poetic, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford turns one of cinema's most rehearsed tales into a dreamy inquiry into the nature of sadism, hero-worship and betrayal.
  12. I wish this movie wasn't so purposefully elegiac and attenuated – at times it's like a middling Terrence Malick fantasia – but it's well worth sitting through.
  13. Reviewed by: Josh Rosenblatt
    78
    No one in the movie is entirely right in the head, least of all James, whose rapidly disintegrating sanity provides Pitt with his juiciest role since "Snatch," one he chomps into with all the relish of a guy who’s been playing suave leading men for too long.
  14. Does something no other Jesse James movie has done: It tells the truth.
  15. Reviewed by: Matthew Sorrento
    70
    In a case where the most dangerous are kept dangerously close, here we have a rarity: a suspenseful, yet dramatic Western.
  16. The language of its narrative, like that of its characters, may be elevated -- a literary Western version of Damon Runyon -- but the words are intriguing, challenging and, occasionally, very funny.
  17. 63
    The movie dreamily conjures up the outlaw's last months, and it's gorgeous, but long, cumbersome, and slightly shallow.
  18. 63
    It’s far less engaging than the recent "3:10 to Yuma" remake and concentrates more on the details than the broad picture.
  19. A long, ambitious, fitfully rewarding movie, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is less about the gun-toting outlaws of the 1880s than the filmmaking outlaws of the 1970s.
  20. I can tell you in nine words whether you'll want to see The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: Writer-director Andrew Dominik wants to be Terrence Malick.
  21. 60
    Although not as radically defamiliarizing as Jim Jarmusch's avant-western "Dead Man," Jesse James has the feel of an attic ransacked for abandoned knickknacks.
  22. Andrew Dominik's long and bizarre movie about the American outlaw appears to stick close enough to the facts so that historians won't be able to complain. But it languishes toward torpor.
  23. This fascinating relationship gets smothered in pointlessly long takes, repetitive scenes, grim Western landscapes and mumbled, heavily accented dialogue.
  24. Ponderous, repetitive and lacking a single rousing action sequence.
  25. 50
    Maybe the life was edited out of it in the two years between shooting and release, or maybe Dominik was simply overwhelmed by the outsized myths of the West, but the film only comes to life after James' death, when Ford quite literally takes center stage.
  26. 50
    Represents a breakthrough in the moviegoing experience. It may be the first time we've been asked to watch a book on tape.
  27. A film whose reach exceeds its grasp. Hugely ambitious and not without moments of success, this indulgent 2 hour and 40 minute epic ends up as unwieldy as its elongated title. It's a movie in love with itself, and few things are more fatal than that.
  28. Mr. Pitt is himself a supernova luminary, of course, and part of the attraction of this film is how his celebrity feeds into that of his character, adding shadings to what is, finally, an overconceptualized if under-intellectualized endeavor.
  29. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    50
    The mere phrase "Brad Pitt as Jesse James" makes for a kind of mini-reflection on the evolution of celebrity culture. It's a shame that The Assassination of Jesse James never goes much deeper than that tag line.
  30. 50
    It is no mean feat to make a boring film about Jesse James, but Andrew Dominik has pulled it off in style.
  31. 50
    This revisionist western by writer-director Andrew Dominik makes a wan attempt to present the Jesse James legend as the dawn of celebrity culture in America.
  32. 38
    A gorgeous snooze, somewhere between imitation Terrence Malick and a feature version of star Brad Pitt's notorious Vanity Fair layout with Angelina Jolie and their faux kids.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 167 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 51 out of 68
  2. Negative: 11 out of 68
  1. Johnny
    Nov 8, 2008
    10
    Absolutely spellbinding. An endlessly interesting character study that's flawlessly written and directed. Casey Affleck delivers in this Absolutely spellbinding. An endlessly interesting character study that's flawlessly written and directed. Casey Affleck delivers in this career-defining role, and both he and Brad Pitt give two of the most complex performances I've ever seen in cinema. I understand that this film will actually bore many people. It is described as a western but it is an artistic western. It is about the film-making; the story; the characters, and not about the all so cliched shoot-em-ups and explosions you see in old westerns. If you can handle art, and steer away from action for just a little bit, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" will truly move you if you can view this in the correct context. If historical accuracy means anything to you, this is THE film to watch. Full Review »
  2. James
    Dec 27, 2007
    10
    Phenomenal film. Aimed at people who aren't stricken with, how should I say, stupidity. The Assassination of Jesse James is why I watch Phenomenal film. Aimed at people who aren't stricken with, how should I say, stupidity. The Assassination of Jesse James is why I watch movies in the first place. There's no good or bad guy, the audience is not asked to pick sides, but only to witness the path that these two men have placed themselves upon. The film is beyond gorgeous, and evokes a certain awe during each and every scene. Casey Affleck gives the performance of a lifetime. Just see it if you're not retarded. Full Review »
  3. Oct 27, 2013
    5
    Moseying along for 160 minutes, this revisionist western by writer-director Andrew Dominik makes a wan attempt to present the Jesse JamesMoseying along for 160 minutes, this revisionist western by writer-director Andrew Dominik makes a wan attempt to present the Jesse James legend as the dawn of celebrity culture in America. This film is far too long but the central relationship of James and Ford is fascinating.
    ...it's got a title that perfectly matches its subject matter: They're both too long by half.
    Full Review »