• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: May 23, 2011
  • Season #: 1
Metascore
67

Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 17
  2. Negative: 1 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    May 23, 2011
    91
    For a topic that sounds as dry as a fund prospectus, the acting and pacing is exceptional.
  2. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    May 20, 2011
    83
    Too Big to Fail effectively follows the money while humanizing most of the moneychangers.
  3. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    May 20, 2011
    83
    The sheer, cynical heartlessness of nearly everyone on-screen--from a wonderfully blunt Tony Shalhoub as Morgan Stanley's John Mack to Topher Grace as a calculating Paulson aide--is both dismaying and riveting.
  4. Reviewed by: David Hinckley
    May 23, 2011
    80
    Whether you agree or disagree, the film sorts out a complex situation in simple and human terms.
  5. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    May 20, 2011
    80
    HBO's Too Big to Fail is mesmerizing and, if you can call watching an economics lesson from hell entertaining, then yes, it's entertaining.
  6. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    May 20, 2011
    75
    Despite the complexity of the subject, it's impossible not to get the gist of what went on in 2008, thanks to the focus on the players and the actors who do the playing.
  7. Reviewed by: Michael Kinsley
    May 23, 2011
    70
    Too Big To Fail uses every cinematic trick in the book, but ultimately succeeds because we know that the danger was real.
  8. Reviewed by: Nancy DeWolf Smith
    May 23, 2011
    70
    While the tale is not always exciting and the parade of suits grows blurry at times, other times Fail takes on the urgency of an imminent nuclear disaster. Shop talk, cutting quips and appropriately ominous music add atmospherics.
  9. Reviewed by: Ellen Gray
    May 23, 2011
    70
    This is undeniably an important story, told in a relatively no-nonsense fashion, about a complex set of events that even people who watch PBS' "Frontline" regularly may still be flummoxed by. And it's one we really do need to understand. As boardroom dramas go, "Too Big to Fail" is bigger on intrigue--and backbiting--than "Celebrity Apprentice." And, yes, it's a disaster movie. I just hope you're not expecting special effects. Or a Hollywood ending.
  10. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    May 23, 2011
    70
    Given the topic, Too Big to Fail might seem like a movie made only for policy wonks but even if you don't understand the finer points of monetary policy, it's still entertaining because it features that great equalizer in American popular culture: Wealthy, well-heeled people behave like jerks, allowing the less wealthy a certain superior satisfaction.
  11. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    May 20, 2011
    70
    An entertaining if slightly dry account of the 2008 government bailout of the financial industry, as viewed over the shoulder of then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, whose agony is deftly conveyed by William Hurt.
  12. Reviewed by: Paige Wiser
    May 23, 2011
    63
    The problem is that financial idiots (hello!) will still be bewildered by the complicated wranglings and enormous cast, and people familiar with the crisis will be annoyed by the simplistic tone and fictionalized scenes.
  13. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    May 24, 2011
    60
    Too Big To Fail adapted by director Curtis Hanson and screenwriter Peter Gould from a book by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, is a decent movie with a stellar title.
  14. Reviewed by: Robert Lloyd
    May 23, 2011
    60
    Too Big to Fail is pretty consistent low-key entertainment if not exactly enlightening (because it is an impersonation of the truth) or gripping (because we already know how it sort of ends).
  15. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    May 20, 2011
    60
    Too Big to Fail has momentum and a certain wonky remove, but is too epic in scope, as Gould's script struggles to match the breadth of the original journalism while the actors try to convince us that they understand all their lines.
  16. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    May 23, 2011
    40
    It fails to transform those events into anything valuable or special, beyond docudramatic re-creation. Ultimately, it's scope is too big, and it fails.
  17. Reviewed by: Jaime N. Christley
    May 23, 2011
    12
    It's a strike against the film that a tiresome connect-the-dots summary of the major players and events is propped up with half-hearted attempts at suspense and ticking clocks and breathlessly watched congressional vote coverage, and rote scenes of actors barking into phones and delivering lines that writer Peter Gould probably wishes he got from the other Sorkin.
User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 16 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 1 out of 6
  1. Jul 13, 2012
    0
    What a piece of crap this was. They made the villains look like victims. As if Geitner, Paulsom, Dimon, Bernanke and the rest of them are theWhat a piece of crap this was. They made the villains look like victims. As if Geitner, Paulsom, Dimon, Bernanke and the rest of them are the good guys trying their best to do the right thing. What nonsense. Am I really supposed to believe that the collapse can all be blamed on irresponsible home buyers and the british? Really? I call **** Full Review »
  2. Sep 6, 2011
    6
    "Too big to fail" ultimately .... FAILED.
    Let me count the ways:
    One, no one made the only thing to say about the dictum "Too big to fail"
    "Too big to fail" ultimately .... FAILED.
    Let me count the ways:
    One, no one made the only thing to say about the dictum "Too big to fail" which is that Too big to fail ... is too big. A company, whose fall can bring down the entire country and the world, is just too big.

    Two, the most common response to this movie by critics and reviewers and on the interwebs is either that it's too complicated (so it's boring?) or surprisingly entertaining while being complicated. If that is what this film does to people, instead of warning them about completely insane upperclass culture of gambling with the money of the middle class, yes then it failed in its goals.
    Three, Paulson, and most players in this catastrophe are propped up as heroes or bystanders. except for Dick Fuld, who is blamed for killing the deal with Koreans. Then Paulson is blamed for not checking with the British. Just ONE of the investment bankers comes off as a greedy a-hole, but only to leftiwing viewers, since he's demanding the right to give out fat bonuses ... out of 125 billion dollars of taxpayer money.

    The reall villain, the mentality of greed and "government is bááááááád", is only indicated mildly. No one is pointing out that the home owner who borrowed too much are actually ALL (upper) middle class! In other words, that 's US, folks! Not the poor innercity blacks, who are blamed throughout the righwing blogosphere.

    The ultimate failure of this movie is that it does not give any hope that anybody has learned anything from all of this. Do we need to fall further down, to crash even harder, for the bankers to change course? No. these people will never learn NOT to be irresponsible. Whatever might happen, they will always gamble wiith our money

    So its our job to think of ways to stop them
    Full Review »
  3. May 29, 2011
    9
    What I thought would be a little dry turned out to be an absolutely thrilling account of one of the more critical behind-the-scenes events inWhat I thought would be a little dry turned out to be an absolutely thrilling account of one of the more critical behind-the-scenes events in American history. Exactly what Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke, et al were engineering to prevent the worldwide financial system from melting down is fascinating. Billy Crudup and William Hurt are absolutely outstanding in this movie, as is Cynthia Nixon (surprisingly). Worth seeing in a big way. I might have to pick up Andrew Ross Sorkin's book on which this film is based. Full Review »