Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. It is enraging yet nuanced, an elusive combination for any documentary.
  2. By the way, The Tillman Story has an R rating because of language. Think about that one, too: Lies are rated G and can be heard around the clock on television, but try saying the truth with the proper force and you end up with a restricted audience.
  3. Mary's search drives The Tillman Story, and throughout this taut, true epic, we see a smart, sometimes angry, always loving family find their destiny: to speak truth to power, to call wartime myths what they are and to show how the American character is not about blind obedience.
  4. 100
    One of the year's best documentaries.
  5. 91
    Amir Bar-Lev shows in the absorbing, eye-opening and sometimes enraging film The Tillman Story, if there was one thing that you could count on Pat Tillman to do it was speak his mind: loudly, intelligently, and often in salty, pointed language.
  6. 91
    In the propaganda-filled realms of politics, sports, and the military, that kind of no-bullsh-- -allowed truth feels cathartic. No wonder the Tillman family has spent much of the last 10 years fighting for it.
  7. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    90
    The Tillman Story is ferocious filmmaking, but it wouldn't have half the force it does if the director didn't also get at the complicated man Pat Tillman was.
  8. Watching the film, emotions range from sadness, of course, to frustration to outright anger.
  9. 90
    It's a fascinating film, full of drama, intrigue, tragedy and righteous indignation, but maybe its greatest accomplishment is to make you feel the death of one young man -- a truly independent thinker who hewed his own way through the world, in the finest American tradition -- as a great loss.
  10. A story that won't go away, won't leave you alone, won't let you feel at ease. Intensely dramatic, filled with elevated heroism, crass self-interest and blatant stupidity, it's a paradigmatic narrative of our tendentious, turbulent times.
  11. This devastating film persuasively portrays them (Tillman family) as finer, more morally sturdy people than the cynical chain of command that lied to them and used their son as a propaganda tool.
  12. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    90
    A riveting account of how a soldier's death in Afghanistan was spun into a web of public lies.
  13. Where the film shines is in its vivid and affecting portrait of Tillman himself. Instead of the square-jawed hero memorialized by the army and lionized by the news media, we get to know a man of many gifts for many seasons.
  14. 88
    This documentary succeeds triumphantly on so many levels that its full impact doesn't hit you until you have time to register its aftershocks.
  15. Bar-Lev tells Tillman's story "Rashomon"-style, incorporating multiple perspectives on Tillman's politics (left-liberal), religion (atheist), and personal relations (he married Marie, his first and only girlfriend). Still, it is a documentary with more details of how he died than how he lived.
  16. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    88
    The Tillman Story is a probing examination of truth, decency and the American way. It also explores deception and military propaganda and lays bare the ravages of grief.
  17. 88
    Emerges as the summer's first true must-see film, required viewing for everyone, but especially audiences in Washington.
  18. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    88
    As taut and suspenseful as any fictional mystery.
  19. 85
    The Tillman Story isn't designed to be a shockeroo exposé; it's more a slow, steady rumble of anger and dismay at what the U.S. military, and the government, can get away with in the name of public relations, as if PR - and not human lives - were the most important consideration during wartime.
  20. Unravels the deceptions -- and the deep dishonor -- that inflated life-size valor into fake superheroism.
  21. Reviewed by: Justin Lowe
    80
    Capably narrated by Josh Brolin, Amir Bar-Lev's penetrating and vital documentary goes beyond tracking the Tillman family's investigation into Pat's death to question the motives of commanding officers and higher-ups.
  22. 80
    The Tillman Story balances cynical and inspirational aspects in equal measure. Pat's demise-and the media debacle around it-seems that much more tragic and enraging.
  23. 80
    The Tillman Story illustrates the amazing lengths the Pentagon went to in order to hide the details of that killing.
  24. The Tillman Story goes deeper, exposing a system of arrogance and duplicity that no WikiLeak could ever fully capture.
  25. Bar-Lev ponders myth in both senses of the word-as a web of lies, but also as a psychological construct that gives life purpose. An atheist and critical thinker, Pat Tillman had no use for either.
  26. 75
    He just wasn't the sort of hero the government pretended he was. This eye-opening, inspiring movie is a permanent corrective to that deception.
  27. Though the story played out in the national media, this documentary makes effective use of commentary by Tillman's survivors, who resent the way the military lied to them and exploited the memory of their loved one to serve an ulterior purpose.
  28. 50
    The Tillman Story purports to be an exposé of the cover-up of the death by friendly fire of the Army Ranger and one time NFL star Pat Tillman. But, provocative and colorful as the film is, it does the very thing it denounces -- massaging the facts to seize Tillman for a political agenda.
User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 27 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 3 out of 8
  1. Apr 17, 2011
    3
    soldiers die and governments try to make them into heroes. whats so shocking about that? what baffles me is that you sign up to go fight in a war, you get killed, and then people make the death out to be more tragic than any other death. war = tragic. nothing new here, move on. Full Review »
  2. Sep 5, 2010
    2
    The Tillman Story is about a professional athlete in a sport that many people love, many people are indifferent about, and many people fundamentally dislike for its violence and overwhelming corporate capitalism. Pat decided to become a soldier instead, but made it very clear that he wanted to go about it low-key and without favor. Predictably, everyone betrayed this intention (arguably, too, his own family). The rest of the film is about that betrayal.

    Pat is deployed, calls the war â
    Full Review »
  3. Mar 22, 2012
    9
    Truth, justice and the American way. 21st century style. What's sad is how we have all become so accepting of this crappy world we have created. Pat wasn't - but he's dead. Full Review »