Mixed or average reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 34
  2. Negative: 8 out of 34
  1. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Sep 28, 2012
    Nothing wrong with a movie having a point of view, but watching people spout jargon or exposition doesn't really make for riveting entertainment.
  2. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Sep 27, 2012
    Davis, in particular, manages to create a fully dimensional character in the midst of a highly polemical screenplay.
  3. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Sep 28, 2012
    For all its strenuous feints at fair play, though, Won't Back Down is something less honorable - a propaganda piece with blame on its mind.
  4. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Sep 27, 2012
    However you take its politics, the film upholds a dreary tradition of simplifying and sentimentalizing matters of serious social concern, and dumbing down issues that call for clarity and creative thinking. Our children deserve better.
  5. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Sep 26, 2012
    The rescuing of our public schools is a national necessity. I just don't know that we are aiding that cause by sending out oversimplified and dogmatic messages about not backing down.
  6. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Sep 28, 2012
    So didactic that viewers are likely to feel less uplifted than lectured.
  7. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Sep 30, 2012
    The film slowly reveals its true colors, pointing a fanatically accusatory finger at teachers' unions while using twisted Obama-esque sloganeering about "order" and "hope" to further its simplistically anticollectivist agenda.
  8. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Sep 27, 2012
    This poor film is so shamelessly manipulative and hopelessly bogus it will make you bite your tongue in regret and despair.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 13 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 5
  2. Negative: 1 out of 5
  1. Oct 1, 2012
  2. Sep 28, 2012
    To Wont Back Down Critics: I am an Urban parent, so the question on the table: "Are parents suppose to sit back and continue to allow education systems to continue to fail to effectively educate and keep safe millions of children because the defenders of "failure as an option" are not ready to embrace change in how we deliver education to children? The Bottom line: if parents don't protect their children who will? FYI the fictional parent Maggie was the actual "trigger" not some law! She saw a problem in the school and it "triggered" her into action! Don Full Review »
  3. Jul 7, 2013
    If you thought The Impossible was a shameless film aimed directly at your tear ducts then you should watch Won't Back Down because you ain't seen nothing yet. Won't Back Down follows Jamie Fitzpatrick (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a single mother with a child who is struggling to read and how she joins force with a teacher, Nona Alberts (Viola Davis) to try and turn around their failing school, the failing school both their children attend. They must do so while going up against a combative bureaucracy trying to hide the schools failing grades under the metaphorical rug. Won't Back Down is manipulative film making at its very worse as the film tries to force you to care about a cause that is led by one of the most unpleasant people. Jamie is an in your face offensive women who finds this cause and instead of doing what any normal person would do, talk to people about it she rams statistics down their throats making the central story of the film a cause I honestly could not care about. The worst aspect is that Won't Back Down is based on a true story and a real mother doing the best for her child but this film turns her into a reprehensible attention seeker and the film spends so much time telling the story of this supposedly courageous woman that it almost forgets that there's even a kid driving everything this character is doing. Despite all that the film also shows Nona's life and as a character Nona is a believable and entertaining woman who is by far the best thing about the film. She is realistic, often caustic but for good reason and she is beautifully portrayed by Viola Davis. If anything Maggie Gyllenhaal gets a bad deal as she is stuck with an emotionless character with no redeeming features at all, even her concern for her child turns into some kind of search for attention. A disappointing film about something real and wonderful that's ruined by bad characterization and a truly awful script that makes people out to be ad men as they constantly speak in slogans, speeches and sales pitches, its shameless viewer manipulation that makes me physically sick. Full Review »