User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 48 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 43 out of 48
  2. Negative: 3 out of 48
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  1. AndrewW.
    Dec 27, 2009
    10
    A must see.
  2. JimH
    Jun 3, 2010
    9
    A marvelous little movie that combines fine story telling with a complete cast acting their hearts out. With the Hurt Locker it's one of two great movies about the War in Iraq. In some respects it's better and more realistic than that other movie.
  3. RichR.
    Nov 29, 2009
    9
    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).
  4. Aug 28, 2010
    9
    A superb war film with not a glimpse of actual warfare in it. The performances are all utterly compelling but what makes this movie great is the way director Oren Moverman slowly builds to big dramatic payoffs. In the small pantheon of modern warfare movies this stands tall.
  5. Aug 13, 2010
    9
    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 toThe 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.
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  6. TimothyV.
    Jun 2, 2010
    8
    Most "real" movie I have watched in a really long while. Completely worth your time.
  7. DWilly
    Jan 30, 2010
    8
    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 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
  8. BillyS.
    Feb 7, 2010
    8
    If it weren't Christolph Waltz's year, Woody Harrelson would be the one called to the podium on Oscar night, Atleast he will be named when they read the nominees for Best Supporting Actor, and deservedly so. Unfortunately, I didn't hear any complaints when they didn't name Ben Foster or Samantha Morton, which they should have, deservedly so! The Messenger is a powerful If it weren't Christolph Waltz's year, Woody Harrelson would be the one called to the podium on Oscar night, Atleast he will be named when they read the nominees for Best Supporting Actor, and deservedly so. Unfortunately, I didn't hear any complaints when they didn't name Ben Foster or Samantha Morton, which they should have, deservedly so! The Messenger is a powerful movie with a heartbreaking script and three superb, harrowing performances. Bravo Oren Moverman, a director worth keeping an eye on. Expand
  9. Sep 5, 2010
    8
    This movie will be a favorite to many because it has some sort of magical ability that other films based off war can't seem to muster -- heart. I felt satisfied after watching the Messenger because not only were the situations realistic, but the realism actually played a huge role in touching me for what might be the first time (in film) on personal levels.
  10. Oct 10, 2010
    8
    La opera prima del guionista convertido en cineasta Moverman es un sólido melodrama viril en el que un héroe de guerra de Iraq, el sargento Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) es comisionado, en sus últimos tres meses de servicio, a fungir como pareja del veterano capitán Stone (Woody Harrelson, justicieramente nominado al Oscar), quien tieneLa opera prima del guionista convertido en cineasta Moverman es un sólido melodrama viril en el que un héroe de guerra de Iraq, el sargento Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) es comisionado, en sus últimos tres meses de servicio, a fungir como pareja del veterano capitán Stone (Woody Harrelson, justicieramente nominado al Oscar), quien tiene la responsabilidad de tocar la puerta de los familiares de los caídos en combate para avisarles que su ser amado ha muerto. En su debut, Moverman demuestra que sabe a la perfección como manejar la cámara. Expand
  11. Mar 22, 2012
    8
    Even securing Hollywood veteran Woody Harrelson his second Oscar nomination, the film has eluded me until now, and a long overdue viewing proves it is an overlooked gem on the recent war-trauma film list. The breakthrough effort of the film is its one-of-a-kind perspective, with zero scenes from the violent frontline (including the usual gambit of fly-on-the-wall clips), the modus operandiEven securing Hollywood veteran Woody Harrelson his second Oscar nomination, the film has eluded me until now, and a long overdue viewing proves it is an overlooked gem on the recent war-trauma film list. The breakthrough effort of the film is its one-of-a-kind perspective, with zero scenes from the violent frontline (including the usual gambit of fly-on-the-wall clips), the modus operandi aims at the ominous casualty notification soldiers and one theatrical oomph originates from the various poignant reactions from the next-of-kins of dead soldiers in Iraq when they are being notified, a faintly tricky scheme to gain the empathy towards both the film and its main characters, which is a laudable feat and very operative due to a splendid cast and unostentatious script (the formality of notification is swell written).

    Budding as one of the versatile young actors in Hollywood, Ben Foster excels in his not-so-frequent leading role as an ostensible war-hero plagued by a hidden secret, typifies ideally a post-war anguish-tortured individual. Foster generates a magnificent screen chemistry both with his tutor-cum-friend Woody Harrelson (a well-developed supporting role as Fosterâ
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  12. Jul 18, 2014
    8
    A very emotional film, The Messenger is certainly a must watch as it really manages to touch you in many ways and feels entirely heartfelt. On top of that, it sports a fantastic performance from Ben Foster, as well as Woody Harrelson. Both of them really steal the show and sweep you off you feet as you entirely believe they are both heavily damaged men dealing with their own demons. On theA very emotional film, The Messenger is certainly a must watch as it really manages to touch you in many ways and feels entirely heartfelt. On top of that, it sports a fantastic performance from Ben Foster, as well as Woody Harrelson. Both of them really steal the show and sweep you off you feet as you entirely believe they are both heavily damaged men dealing with their own demons. On the surface, The Messenger is a film about an injured war veteran (Foster) being assigned to casualty notification duty with a hard as nails Captain (Harrelson). However, it is truly about their relationship and themselves as individuals as they learn more about one another and the other sees what troubles them. It is a very well done character study that is entirely moving in its subject matter and the way it handles this subject matter. The Messenger feels like a small film at times, but at others, it feels entirely grand and is very well done. Now, it is not a great film, but it is undeniably a damn good one and makes for a tough watch. Expand
  13. justins.
    Dec 4, 2009
    7
    Good movie, but ultimately a disappointment. it felt like someone was trying to tack on a love story in order to pad the running time and it just didn't work. the romance (really just about everything except the casualty notification stuff) was pretty weak. so why do I give this a good rating? because the aforementioned scenes where the two soldiers have to do their jobs wereGood movie, but ultimately a disappointment. it felt like someone was trying to tack on a love story in order to pad the running time and it just didn't work. the romance (really just about everything except the casualty notification stuff) was pretty weak. so why do I give this a good rating? because the aforementioned scenes where the two soldiers have to do their jobs were OUTSTANDING. just very well done and the acting by the grief-stricken family members was amazing, especially by Steve Buscemi and the father who discovers that not only did his daughter get married behind his back, but she's suddenly a war widow. if the director had stuck to that, this would have been hands down one of the best films of the year, if not the decade. I challenge you to watch those scenes and not be devastated. unless you're undead, it can't be done. Expand
  14. Nov 14, 2010
    7
    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.
  15. Feb 24, 2013
    7
    An emotional powerhouse drama. Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster are stunning, and Samantha Morton and Jena Malone give solid supporting performances. Check it out!
  16. KP
    Jun 13, 2010
    4
    As boring as a war movie could possibly be...I turned it off half way through and won't watch the rest. If you like soap operas you'll love this. Part of me kept hoping that Woody and partner would bust out the 50 cal and at least make it a little interesting.
  17. Mar 19, 2011
    1
    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 theseThe 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
Metascore
77

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Andrew Male
    Jun 13, 2011
    60
    A worthy addition to the canon of Iraq war films, The Messenger has a gentle humanity that creeps under your skin. Look out for a terrific Harrelson turn, too.
  2. Reviewed by: Justin Lowe
    80
    Moverman adopts a functional directing style that gives full rein to the actors' impressive performances.
  3. 90
    This is a fully felt, morally alert, marvellously acted piece of work. Despite the grim subject, it's a sweet-tempered movie, with moments of explosive humor-an entertainment.