Mixed or average reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 21
  2. Negative: 3 out of 21
  1. Scott is able to make it fresh and lyrical, as well as give us rousingly exciting scenes of nature in eruption. [02 Feb 1996]
  2. 75
    Amid the action heroics of White Squall, Bridges creates a character of consequence.
  3. 75
    I enjoyed the movie for the sheer physical exuberance of its adventure. It is magnificently mounted and photographed.
  4. 75
    White Squall is a success because the good elements are so well-orchestrated that they dwarf the few obvious flaws. This film offers just about everything, including a twenty-minute white-knuckle sequence and a chance to shed a few tears. In short, it's first-rate entertainment.
  5. The story has its corny aspects, but thanks to Scott's skill as an image maker and as a storyteller--proceeding from the very blue and very abstract water seen behind the credits to the climactic, extended storm--this is superior to both "Dead Poets Society" (as a tale about a boys' school and its charismatic teacher) and "Apollo 13" (as a true-life action adventure).
  6. White Squall is lovely to look at, but frustrating to behold.
  7. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    A misshapen allegory wrapped around a truly awe-inspiring set piece, Ridley Scott's latest is another waste of his prodigious talent.
  8. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    The 15-minute squall is spectacular and the movie's partial redeemer - the minimum you'd hope for in a movie called White Squall, don't you think? [02 Feb 1996]
  9. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    A curiously compulsive drama that for all its inevitable Dead Sailors’ Society trappings is still highly entertaining.
  10. As a coming-of-age melodrama and high seas adventure, White Squall is fair.
  11. The shipwreck comes too late to rescue movie from endless banalities. [02 Feb 1996]
  12. 50
    Stunningly photographed, acted with occasional bravura and structured with exacting precision, it fails to sing more than once or twice, and then only briefly. [2 Feb 1996]
  13. The 20 or so minutes we spend with the Albatross in the squall is high adventure, to be sure. Everything else is ballast.
  14. Despite great scenery, the distinctive visual ideas of Mr. Scott ("Alien," "Blade Runner") and the strong dramatic presence of Mr. Bridges, most of White Squall remains listless and tame.
  15. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Director Ridley Scott's lavish production isn't totally satisfying, coasting aimlessly at times before suddenly leaping to a more intense dramatic plane.
  16. The psychology of the story is shallow, but the action scenes pack a good visual punch.
  17. Reviewed by: Georgia Brown
    Despite a rousing fourth act (out of five), this disappointing adventure movie plays more like: "Dead Poets Goes to Sea." [06 Feb 1996]
  18. Reviewed by: Kevin McManus
    Todd Robinson's script, alas, drags White Squall down. As directed by Ridley Scott, with a surplus of intrusive music and some manic overacting, the movie dips into cliches. [02 Feb 1996]
  19. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    This is, or was, a true story, but invested as it is with relentlessly cliched emotions, it plays like cheap fiction.
  20. The failures of White Squall are dismaying as well as perplexing. Director Ridley Scott serves up some ravishing images along the way: the stark geometry of the ship's riggings against an azure sky, crew kids scampering along a verdant ridge toward a volcano's silvery crater lake. But the script is a shambles. [06 Feb 1996]

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