Mixed or average reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 35
  2. Negative: 3 out of 35
  1. 100
    One of those rare movies where you leave the theater having been surprised and entertained, and then start arguing.
  2. It's an intelligent and informed look at the preposterous ways our leaders are often picked and sabotaged.
  3. Supplies the three key elements of the best political thrillers: suspense, credibility and the feeling that you're really sitting in the Oval Office.
  4. 83
    An assured and gripping political drama filled with remarkable performances and razor-sharp writing and editing.
  5. 75
    Heavy-handed and manipulative, it also proves formidably engrossing.
  6. Lurie has made an impressive contribution to the bulging library of political film, and he has showcased some performances sure to get Oscar consideration.
  7. 75
    Excellent performances in an entertaining if less than totally plausible story.
  8. A sharp, intricate political drama.
  9. The sort of smutty scandalmongering the average moviegoer can really get behind.
  10. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    This smart political thriller gets pulses pounding with no pyrotechnics and only one car crash. And it's a doozy.
  11. 70
    What Lurie has made is "The West Wing" without the constraining niceties of prime time.
  12. It does move right along and it's enlivened by stronger, more enjoyable acting than this kind of picture usually provides.
  13. A cast that chews the scenery with such obvious enjoyment that you're happy to put up with its tin-eared oratory and preposterous plot turns for the sake of a good ride.
  14. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    Silly as it is, The Contende has a lurid zest that keeps you hooked, and a rambunctiously good cast.
  15. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    Has a nonsensical twist ending that almost wrecks it, but until then it has enough fast, hyperliterate venality to make it great fun.
  16. As entertainment of a tawdry but compelling sort, The Contender certainly delivers.
  17. A potpourri of issue-oriented drama enlivened by superlative performances and smart dialogue.
  18. Engages in the cinematic equivalent of not inhaling.
  19. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Compelling and provocative -- though not memorable.
  20. Misfires by constantly tossing out liberal feel-goodisms.
  21. 60
    Until The Contender slips into partisan politics and platitudinous piety, it's a lively, entertaining ride.
  22. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    The large, talented cast elevates the film above the trappings of its loquacious debates, particularly Allen.
  23. I can recommend the first two-thirds of this movie with great enthusiasm.
  24. Bridges and Allen are so bracingly good that you're encouraged to overlook how manipulative the proceedings are.
  25. Annoyingly shallow, filled with one-note characters, and not half as daring as it seems to think it is.
  26. 55
    It's a polished, beautifully made movie with a rotten heart.
  27. The story is so calculated that it ultimately bears little relation to the real world.
  28. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Wonderfully cast and slickly directed, but so crudely written.
  29. 40
    Graceless writing and shameless plot contrivance.
  30. Reviewed by: Tom Keogh
    The film's very premise, while initially promising, doesn't hold up to lengthy scrutiny.
  31. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    A sophomore writing-directing effort from former film critic Rod Lurie.
  32. 20
    The most gutless and naive political drama of recent memory.
  33. The most offensive movie of the year.
  34. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    The film looks horrendous, poorly composed and staged, and the rhythm staggers.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 7
  2. Negative: 1 out of 7
  1. Mar 23, 2013
    Politics and only politics. This movie had no drama outside of what was relevant to the political intrigue. All the performances were well done, and like always, Gary Oldman's performance stood out. Full Review »
  2. Jun 10, 2011
    Whilst the film is able to stand up on the strength of it's performances (especially from Gary Oldman), the moral one-sidedness and misrepresentation of White House politics brings it down. Full Review »