Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    A thumpingly good ode to friendship, hope, wit, wiles and wisdom, brimming with crackling characters and topped with the most twisteroo of twists since "The Crying Game."
  2. 90
    It's the no-bull performances that hold back the flood of banalities. Robbins and Freeman connect with the bruised souls of Andy and Red to create something undeniably powerful and moving.
  3. There are times when The Shawshank Redemption comes dangerously close to sounding one of those "triumph of the spirit" notes. But most of it is eloquently restrained. [23 Sept 1994, p.C3]
  4. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    [Darabont] makes you feel the maddening pace of prison time without letting his picture succumb to it.
  5. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    Central to the film's success is a riveting, unfussy performance from Robbins. Freeman has the showier role, allowing him a grace and dignity that come naturally.
  6. 90
    Too long, but it feels sturdy and stirring – there's an old fashioned decency in the way that it exerts, and increases, its claim upon our feelings. [26 Sept 1994, p.108]
  7. 89
    At times poignant, joyful, and terrifying, Shawshank Redemption is an altogether brilliant movie and the debut of an equally brilliant director.
  8. 88
    If the film is perhaps a little slow in its middle passages, maybe that is part of the idea, too, to give us a sense of the leaden passage of time, before the glory of the final redemption.
  9. This is a movie with every facet shining in place, every word charged and resonant. [23 Sept 1994]
  10. As the uptight banker, Robbins does some of his subtlest acting to date. As his hardened but resilient friend, Freeman is simply miraculous, giving the role so much depth, dignity, and good humor that you feel that you've known this man forever. [27 Sept 1994]
  11. 88
    Whitmore's Brooks is a brilliantly-realized character, and the scenes with him attempting to cope with life outside of Shawshank represents one of the film's most moving -- and effective -- sequences.
  12. Some of "The Shawshank Redemption'' comes across as outrageously improbable. Yet the film keeps pulling you back with its sense of striving humanity slowly turning the tables against evil.
  13. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Kudos go to the great Thomas Newman, whose score contributes as much as either lead to what is finally a two-character movie, though one well-performed by all. [23 Sept 1994]
  14. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    A crowd-pleasing story that has little to do with the messy complexities of reality.
  15. Shouldering a laconic-good-guy, neo- Gary Cooper role, Robbins never quite makes emotional contact with the audience.
  16. Paradoxically, it is Shawshank's zealousness in trying to cast a rosy glow over the prison experience that makes us feel we're doing harder time than the folks inside. [23 Sept 1994]
  17. Speaking of jail, "Shawshank"-the-movie seems to last about half a life sentence. The story, chiefly about the 20-year friendship between Freeman and Robbins, becomes incarcerated in its own labyrinthine sentimentality.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 804 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 6 out of 172
  1. Nov 3, 2010
    One of the best movies of all time. Don't deprive yourself of the pleasure of watching such a stellar movie. Go now and watch this movie if you have never seen it. Perfect casting, amazing story, emotional performances. Just perfect. Full Review »
  2. Dec 30, 2010
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. So, so, so good. The adaptation of the Stephen King novel is so entertaining, filled with interesting dialogue and plot twists. A pretty much perfect prison film. Great performances by Robbins and Freeman. One moment really got to me: the moment when Andy crawls out of the sewer tunnel and stares up at the sky in the rain. Such a glorious moment of triumph, I wanted to stand up and scream "Yes!". This movie truly depicted that prison life in the fifties was just as hard for new prisoners as it is implied today. The movie didn't sugar coat Andy's prison life. A great movie full of great writing and performances that the first time you watch it, it will instantly be fortified as a great movie classic. Full Review »
  3. Sep 10, 2011
    "Shawshank Redemption", a sensational movie containing a strong plot, powerful performances, and the ultimate theme of good and evil, is a masterpiece. Full Review »