Metascore
77

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

User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 45 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • 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. 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 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.
    Expand
  2. 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. Expand
  3. 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. Expand
  4. 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 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
    Expand
  5. 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. Expand
  6. 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! Expand
  7. 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 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... Collapse

See all 16 User Reviews

Trailers

Related Articles

  1. Ranked: The Best and Worst Iraq/Afghanistan War Films

    Ranked: The Best and Worst Iraq/Afghanistan War Films Image
    Published: June 25, 2010
    This week sees the release of the latest big screen look the Afghanistan conflict, "Restrepo." How does the new film compare to previous movies about the two wars? We rank the best and worst.
  2. AFI, Boston Critics, L.A. Critics Name Top Movies of 2009

    AFI, Boston Critics, L.A. Critics Name Top Movies of 2009 Image
    Published: December 13, 2009
    The awards season kicks into high gear this week, and three separate organizations have given a big boost to The Hurt Locker, while another favors Avatar.