Reviews - American History X (1998)
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American History X (1998)

Genres: Crime, Drama

Taglines: Some Legacies Must End.

Director: Tony Kaye

Writers: David McKenna

Stars: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D'Angelo, Jennifer Lien, ...

Derek Vineyard is paroled after serving 3 years in prison for brutally killing two black men who tried to break into/steal his truck. Through his brother, Danny Vineyard's narration, we learn that before going to prison, Derek was a skinhead and the leader of a violent white supremacist gang that committed acts of racial crime throughout L.A. and his actions greatly influenced Danny. Reformed and fresh out of prison, Derek severs contact with the gang and becomes determined to keep Danny from going down the same violent path as he did.


A shockingly powerful screed against racism that also manages to be so well performed and directed that it is entertaining as well. [30 October 1998, Friday, p.A]

83 | Owen Gleiberman

This is the sort of incendiary role a lot of actors would kill for, yet the shock of Norton's performance isn't its showboat flamboyance. It's that he makes this sadistic junior sociopath rueful and intelligent.
Read More: Entertainment Weekly

80 | Todd McCarthy

Jolting, superbly acted film.
Read More: Variety

80 | Janet Maslin

An inflated yet gut-slugging film.
Read More: The New York Times

75 | Mike Clark

While this movie is sometimes overbaked, it is the first major studio release in a while to engross wall-to-wall.
Read More: USA Today

75 | James Berardinelli

May be flawed, but it's not easily forgotten.
Read More: ReelViews

75 | Jami Bernard

Unflinching in its depiction of racism, anti-Semitism, violence and jailhouse politics.
Read More: New York Daily News

75 | Roger Ebert

A series of well-drawn sketches and powerful scenes, in search of an organizing principle.
Read More: Chicago Sun-Times

75 | Craig Marine

Such an ambitious, well-acted film that it's easy to overlook its flaws as relatively minor.
Read More: San Francisco Examiner

70 | Jonathan Rosenbaum

The movie can't explain as much as it wants to about what makes (and unmakes) a skinhead, but it carries us a fair distance.
Read More: Chicago Reader

70 | Michael O'Sullivan

Trenchant and visceral, American History X may not be perfect, but it's a darn sight better than good.
Read More: Washington Post

70 | Ken Fox

It's Norton who makes the film such an enlightening experience, and he's mesmerizing.
Read More: TV Guide Magazine

70 | David Edelstein

It's a testament to Norton's utter immersion in the role that he can even halfway connect the dots between this fundamentally sweet, brainy kid and the magnetic, white trash monster who'll haunt our minds long after the movie's liberal pieties fade into static.
Read More: Slate

67 | Marc Savlov

A violent, sober cautionary tale, strictly middle-of-the-road when it comes to its much-ballyhooed politics and grimly obvious in its telling.
Read More: Austin Chronicle

63 | Liam Lacey

Excellent in flashes, unintentionally absurd and lead-footed at other moments, the movie stumbles under the weight of its own grandiose intentions.
Read More: The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

60 | Joshua Klein

There may be much to like about his movie, but it's all been done before to more challenging degrees of moral ambiguity. That's a pretty fatal flaw.
Read More: The A.V. Club

60 | Richard Corliss

It's hard to know whom to blame for the film's choppiness, its mixture of rage and sentimentality, the stridency of some of the acting.
Read More: Time

60 | Manohla Dargis

Director Tony Kaye may be reaching for opera, but screenwriter David McKenna has set his sights distinctly lower.
Read More: L.A. Weekly

60 | David Ansen

This material is charged enough without piling on the melodrama and the lip-smacking violence. The movie too often sacrifices reportage for razzle-dazzle.
Read More: Newsweek

50 | Kenneth Turan

For all its surface verisimilitude and for all its focus on a problem that couldn't be more current, this film can't manage to feel more than sporadically real.
Read More: Los Angeles Times

50 | Mick LaSalle

As a visit to a world and a way of life most of us will never experience, American History X is vivid, and it feels honest. At the very least, it's not typical.
Read More: San Francisco Chronicle

40 | Andy Klein

Fails dramatically as well as ideologically.
Read More: Dallas Observer

25 | David Sterritt

Norton's high-energy acting is the only element that saves the picture from being a total loss.
Read More: Christian Science Monitor

20 | Gary Dauphin

A mess of a film.
Read More: Village Voice

20 | Stephen Hunter

A mousy little nothing of a picture.
Read More: Washington Post