Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 45 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: In his first leading role, Foster stars as Will Montgomery, a U.S. Army officer who has just returned home from a tour in Iraq and is assigned to the Army’s Casualty Notification service. Partnered with fellow officer Tony Stone to bear the bad news to the loved ones of fallen soldiers, Will faces the challenge of completing his mission while seeking to find comfort and healing back on the home front. When he finds himself drawn to Olivia, to whom he has just delivered the news of her husband's death, Will’s emotional detachment begins to dissolve and the film reveals itself as a surprising, humorous, moving and very human portrait of grief, friendship and survival. (Oscillscope Laboratories) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. "The Hurt Locker" may be getting all the attention and awards but The Messenger is at least as good and perhaps, given its delicate handling of a sensitive subject, even better.
  2. The best war movies don't preach against war: They remind us of the costs for soldiers and families and ask us to consider whether those costs are worth paying. The Messenger does that without firing a bullet or putting us on a battlefield.
  3. 88
    Its truths are personal. It means to shake you. And does.
  4. The actors playing parents and spouses (among them Steve Buscemi, Halley Feiffer, Portia, and Kevin Hagan) are stunningly believable. I'm not sure how Morton made sense of her character's ebbs and flows, but I never doubted her. She's a mariner in uncharted seas of emotion.
  5. One of the rare movies that communicates honestly and artfully about the real casualties of war: the surviving combatants.
  6. 75
    The scenes between Montgomery and Stone in plainclothes would seem to be tangential to Moverman's movie, but they're very much its point. Only in uniform do these men make sense to themselves.
  7. 25
    The similar Kevin Bacon HBO movie "Taking Chance" got there first. Worse news: The earlier movie was sober, meticulous and quietly convincing, not a shouty, shoddy bore like this piece of flummery.

See all 32 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 16
  2. Negative: 1 out of 16
  1. AndrewW.
    Dec 27, 2009
    A must see.
  2. RichR.
    Nov 29, 2009
    Well, it did start to drift a bit, especially when Samantha Morton got involved, but for the most part it was a great film. (I think just about every film Ed Harris is in is gonna be great, and I'm starting to think the same thing about Woody Harrelson). Expand
  3. Aug 13, 2010
    The Messenger is the second best Iraqi war movie of 2009, it's not as good as The Hurt Locker but still proves it's self among other war movies by being better. The best war movies I have seen that are worth to watch again and again are Black Hawk Down, Saving Private Ryan and Platoon.. They were able to capture the essence and pathos of soldiers. There are many more that I would like to see. However there are not much Iraq war movies out there, until Kathryn Bigelow directed and release The Hurt Locker which won Best Picture and Best Director. Then came along another film that people ignore and it's worth a watch. The Messenger talks about grief, loneliness, pain and the transition to coexist in the real world. Our men in uniform call home the real world while the combat zone is hell. I personally experience my cousin who's like a brother to me went to Iraq and came back injured and the terrible time our family went through. He's all right now and finish with the Army. I love movies that deeply respect soldiers and doesn't succumb them into melodramatic plots and clich?ar stories or bloody violence. I'm talking to you Pearl Harbor and Windtalkers. Ben Foster who I compare to Anthony Mackie from The Hurt Locker who should have been nominated plays Staff Sgt. Will Montgomery. He just came back from Iraq after serious injuries. He's already despising the fact of everybody calling him a hero. He already has bad luck when his girlfriend leaves him for another guy. He has three months left on his enlistment and his commanding officer orders him to join the Army's Casualty Notification service. He's reluctant but is forced to join. Here he meets Capt. Tony Stone who is he's partner and training officer. The movie is power full when they go and notify the families of the fallen soldiers. There are gut wrenching scenes which are not to be taken lightly especially if you are family who has lost loved one in Iraq. There is a scene with the great actor Steve Buscemi that completely steals the scene and one of my favorite scenes of the movie. Then they notify Kelly played very well by Jena Malone who is now a single mother because of her husband dying. Strangely Will is attracted and intrigue by her. He helps her with things around the house and visits her and eats dinner with her and her son. This is something that he can't do and angers Tony, Will who feels everybody in the world doesn't understand him Kelly is a safe haven for him. She's needy and he's needy in his own way. The movie works as well because of the chemistry Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster has. They start off not liking each other but gradually getting along. Tony feels the up most respect towards Will because of his combat experience and at the same time jealousy because of his lack of combat. Will teaches Tony that the families are human then just names on a piece of paper. I feel the flaw of the film is that it loses its focus when the romance starts with Will and Kelly. There are good scenes between them, don't get me wrong but I feel the movie loses track and doesn't head into the right direction but it does pick it self up and finish very satisfying. The movie is thought full and very respectful towards its subject. The movie has no war violence whatsoever but Will's brutal description of the events will make you shudder. A very good movie and must be seen.

    Note: It's funny on my senior year I was going to join the Army and I was to be sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky and my MOS was going to be Calvary Scout. I was ready to go April 23, 2005, my mom got hit by a car and I couldn't go. My pregnant wife and mom begged me not go back again. I think to myself if I would have still join where would be now? Could I be somewhere around the world, or would my wife get that two neatly dressed service men on the door? This movie made me think that way. My prayers go to all our woman and men in uniform.
  4. DWilly
    Jan 30, 2010
    Think about it. Is there a more compelling and suspenseful occupation you could portray than the guys who go around telling people that there young loved ones have been killed? With long two-shots of first class acting (Samantha Morton is absolutely top-flight), and with dialog that is unfrilly, yet really crackles at times, this is a movie that is aspires to something. Too bad the public doesn't want to have to actually contemplate the war(s) we nevertheless have no problem funding, so a snarky, shiny piece of pretense like "Up In The Air" ends up getting all the attention when it comes to a film about alienation. For a while I thought this picture was going to sail into the highest ranks, but it takes a bit a dip in the third act, and, although they're solid as hell, neither Woody Harrelson nor Ben Foster quite has the chops to muscle it over the top. Expand
  5. TimothyV.
    Jun 2, 2010
    Most "real" movie I have watched in a really long while. Completely worth your time.
  6. Nov 14, 2010
    Without firing a single bullet or be shown horrific scenes of the battlefield, The Messenger shows the pain that comes with war through the eyes of those that stay behind... Credit to the cast that deliver a subtle but yet emotionally rich performances. Expand
  7. Mar 19, 2011
    The movie started out pretty good, but about 15 minutes into it, descended straight into Absurdia. I am not a military man, but it is hard for me to imagine that notification officers would act like that. In addition, what is the appeal of yet another movie showing two guys who basically cannot handle life, and opt for the bottle ? It's old, it's boring, and nature itself selects these individuals for extinction, because no woman in her right mind would stay with them. The movie got that part right. I am in no way saying that war is not horrible, and that soldiers get traumatized, But as soon as you pop that beer, you are just one of the countless losers... Expand

See all 16 User Reviews


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