Mixed or average reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 33
  2. Negative: 3 out of 33
  1. Such a sour, mindlessly inflated experience that seeing it may temporarily put you off historical movies.
  2. 80
    The Messenger may be a caricature of theology, but then Besson is a cartoonist of genius.
  3. Reviewed by: Matt Kelsey
    If all history lessons were this stylish, elementary school would have been a better place.
  4. The horror and spectacle of medieval battle has never been re-created on film before with such ghastly beauty.
  5. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    A lively, nutty film, one full of clumsy, clanging battles filmed by the gifted, eccentric Besson with bloody brio.
  6. Blends great cinematic energy with an awkwardly mixed multinational cast and aggressively over-modernized dialogue.
  7. Reviewed by: Sean Means
    While The Messenger feeds our appetite for visual panache, it starves the soul.
  8. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    The lack of a plausible leading lady is enough to sink what is otherwise an eye-catching, although heavily '90s-style, telling of one of history's most frequently filmed stories.
  9. 70
    Inexplicable as it is, the Joan of Arc story encourages contemplation of ourselves as a species. The Messenger is more apt to prompt meditation on the nature of show business.
  10. 67
    It's Besson's stunning visual fluency that takes center stage, and in the end, that's not quite enough.
  11. You might be occasionally dumbfounded by The Messenger, but you won't be bored.
  12. 63
    The story's more sober elements are regularly leavened by hip visual flourishes and even some quiet comedy.
  13. Never was the case for psychotropic medication more acute than in Jovovich's performance.
  14. 60
    Luc Besson--and Andrew Birkin wrote the pandering, adolescent screenplay for this pseudosubversive hagiography, and nearly every scene screams out its sensationalist intent, though few actually achieve the status of spectacle.
  15. Reviewed by: Janet Maslin
    Though Ms. Jovovich's performance dominates the film, she remains pedestrian and underwhelming.
  16. 60
    It's all overblown: too much music, too much cutting, too much zooming, too much computerized special effects, too much clanky symbolism that never works.
  17. Besson is unable to weave the comic scenes together with the serious gory ones, so both seem increasingly jarring and unbelievable.
  18. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Has a three-way split personality, which happily includes an action-packed middle to ease the pain of its early protracted exposition and later action so slow that you'll be asking "Gotta match?" to the person next to you.
  19. Besson's account of the Maid of Orleans presents itself as a celebration of a martyr's faith but shows more interest in the violence and hatred that surrounded her life.
  20. 50
    A truly vulgar movie.
  21. By casting model-turned-actress (and his now-estranged wife) Milla Jovovich as the Maid of Orleans, Besson gives us an over-amped spectacle with an annoying, sometimes ridiculous cipher at its heart.
  22. Reviewed by: John Hartl
    It's a painful sit from beginning to end.
  23. 50
    The movie is a mess: a gassy costume epic with nobody at the center.
  24. 50
    Bresson's vision of the miseries of 15th century life -- which was undeniably nasty, brutish and short -- comes dangerously close to the comic squalor of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."
  25. 50
    May be the grandest looking film ever made on the subject, but it lacks the most essential element of all: passion.
  26. 50
    The ludicrous casting of Hoffman is just the fatal bit of kindling on this Joan's fire.
  27. Reviewed by: Eliza Truitt
    Milla Jovovich is not quite up to the task of playing a nuanced and thoughtful Joan.
  28. There's precious little in Luc Besson's solemnly inflated, battle-weary historical epic.
  29. 40
    Besson loves his violence almost as much as he loves his leading lady.
  30. 40
    For the 148 minutes it takes "The Messenger" to deliver its message, being John Malkovich or Milla Jovovich is really no fun at all.
  31. Jovovich, Besson's 24-year-old ex-wife, hasn't a clue how to project shadings, interior emotions, character or personality. Everything's in a full screech.
  32. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    A lot of striking pictures in this would-be feminist "Braveheart," but a film that's pretty flat and earthbound because of the limitations of the figure at its center.
  33. Isn't some sober history lesson that bogs down in long speeches and tedious facts. It's about style, it's about fashion, it's about rock 'n' roll busting out in medieval France.

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