Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Aug 10, 2011
    100
    The Interrupters is based on a much-acclaimed article in the New York Times Magazine by Alex Kotlowitz, who followed a period of intense violence in Chicago. He joined with James to co-produce the film. It is difficult to imagine the effort, day after day for a year, of following this laborious, heroic and so often fruitless volunteer work.
  2. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Aug 25, 2011
    90
    No concept in the critical lexicon has been more devalued and debased than "inspirational." The term has been so misused, it's just about lost all meaning. A film that makes that word real and vital has to be special. The Interrupters is such a film.
  3. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Sep 29, 2011
    78
    Filmmaker Steve James is apparently incapable of making an uninteresting documentary, even when his subject matter might presumably be thoroughly played out.
  4. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Aug 26, 2011
    88
    One of the first things that strikes you about these courageous people, who constantly confront volatile, gun-carrying thugs, is that they outgrew their violent pasts and now live contented lives with their families.
  5. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Sep 15, 2011
    100
    The immediacy and caprice of violence in The Interrupters are just as strong as in nearly every documentary I've seen about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Aug 26, 2011
    83
    Alternately inspirational and disheartening, galvanizing and wearying.
  7. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Jul 28, 2011
    83
    Witnessing outreach workers intervening in these situations is inspiring enough, but their subtlety and nuance in neutralizing people of different backgrounds and temperaments is especially impressive.
  8. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Aug 25, 2011
    91
    A staggering movie about a reality so dark and painful and real that it almost crushes the mind to think about it.
  9. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jul 28, 2011
    100
    A stereotype-shattering movie that's full of them, and one that may permanently change the way you think about violent crime in America.
  10. 75
    Redemption, not crime, is the real theme here, for this handful of courageous men and women who have rescued their own lives, and just possibly may help save the blighted neighbourhoods in which they labour.
  11. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Jul 29, 2011
    75
    The movie is more a situation than a narrative, and it's repetitive and depressing. One interrupter -- a murderer who did 14 years in prison -- says of the program, "In essence, it's just a Band-Aid." At best: One of his colleagues gets shot in the back for his peacekeeping effort.
  12. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jul 29, 2011
    80
    This is crucial work, evidenced by a line on a wall of R.I.P. graffiti that reads simply, "I am next." This film of common folks fighting the seemingly inevitable is just as moving.
  13. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Jul 28, 2011
    80
    The stories in The Interrupters, a hard wallop of a documentary, may weigh heavily on your heart and head, but they will also probably infuriate you.
  14. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Aug 8, 2011
    90
    Matthews brings to The Interrupters what every terrific documentary needs: an out-of-nowhere personality with the same magnetic watchability as any Hollywood star.
  15. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Jul 25, 2011
    91
    Steve James's The Interrupters runs long, but earns its heft.
  16. Reviewed by: Andrea Gronvall
    Aug 11, 2011
    100
    When the interrupters do succeed, the results can be riveting.
  17. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Sep 1, 2011
    75
    An intense and chilling documentary.
  18. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Jul 26, 2011
    80
    The Interrupters reminds us of the powers and pleasures of well-crafted, immersive nonfiction filmmaking.
  19. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Aug 19, 2011
    90
    May be the most necessary film you'll see this year. But if you go to the movies in search of emotion rather than edification, don't let that word necessary deter you, because this is also one of the most engaging films you'll see this year, full of vibrant, complex real-life characters whose troubles and joys will stay with you long after the movie's done.
  20. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    Aug 8, 2011
    80
    A welcome return from Hoop Dream director Steve James. Even at just shy of three hours, the format strains to accommodate such a complex, involving true-life story, but it makes a seriously impressive attempt.
  21. Reviewed by: Stephanie Merry
    Sep 16, 2011
    75
    The gritty film is realistically inspiring and, thankfully, not overly dramatized. While the interrupters succeed on many levels, a pervasive sadness remains.
  22. Reviewed by: Vadim Rizov
    Jul 28, 2011
    60
    James keeps viewer attention the whole time, despite forcing unnecessarily sentimental music on his footage and chopping his scenes down to dramatic highlights rather than letting them play at length.
  23. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Jul 24, 2011
    60
    James captures candid counseling sessions and heated tussles with equal dynamism, but never quite earns his 164-minute running time.
  24. Reviewed by: Lauren Wissot
    Jul 24, 2011
    88
    An inspirational and heartbreaking nail-biter, The Interrupters was more difficult for me to watch than any battle documentary I've seen in years.
User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 6
  2. Negative: 1 out of 6
  1. Aug 30, 2012
    5
    It's interesting and all but this isn't a movie, it's a documentary, and I don't know why it got such high reviews. Anyway, if you would like a direct and clear view of the crime and life of the average ghetto black in chicago, this movie is perfect. It was very interesting. Just not really a movie, with no creativity, no brilliant arrangements, just random excerpts of blacks and information presented randomly. Good content just not well done. Full Review »
  2. Sep 2, 2011
    8
    Other than running just a little long, this is a terrific film. It makes me feel good that there are people like these very courageous and compassionate interrupters who literally put their lives on the line to change the violent behaviors of these young kids. So many vicious circles operating at the same time. The kids need jobs to stay out of violence, but the violence keeps businesses out of their neighborhoods. The kids won't have a chance without better schools, but you won't have operating classrooms while the kids are so troubled no matter how much money you pour into their school systems. If these fights are born of a 5 dollar debt, or some kid looking at another the wrong way, we don't have a chance. It's the "converted" - those who have lived that life and have established reputations for crime, experienced institutionalization, and then redemption - that can make the difference, and it just makes me feel good, again, that they're now fighting the "good" fight. Full Review »
  3. Dec 14, 2012
    4
    A difficult movie to sit through for a middle class person from the suburbs, whatever your race. No question that reducing violence in our cities is an important issue, but it can be tough to relate to people who might kill each other over a $5 debt. Much respect goes out to those people who work daily on the thankless task of reducing this violence. Full Review »