JFK - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

JFK Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 2, 2012
Director Oliver Stone is no stranger to biopics or documentaries covering the lives of influential or powerful people. He has looked in the lives of Vietnam veteran and political activist Ron Kovic in "Born On The Fourth Of July"; Jim Morrison, the lead singer of "The Doors"; military general and conquerer "Alexander" the great; Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro in "Comandante" and two films on the exploits of American presidents Richard "Nixon" and George "W." Bush. In the films mentioned, Stone explores the lives of these men but in "JFK" he does the opposite and explores the death of the man and in the process, crafts one of his most accomplished films.
In Dallas, Texas on November 22nd 1963, President John F. Kennedy is assassinated. The official explanation released by the F.B.I. doesn't make sense and is very suspicious. As a result, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) decides to investigate and uncovers a dangerous conspiracy that may involve more than he could ever have imagined.
Oliver Stone has done his homework here and bombards the audience with facts, theories and reports from the media, interviews and eyewitness testimonies. He covers the history of events right across the board from the Bay of Pigs to the Warren Report via the questionable marksmanship of "lone gunman" Lee Harvey Oswald. Whether or not you agree with Stone's theories is of little importance. What is of great importance is his ability to pose serious questions on one of the most tragic political events and biggest conspiracies in American history. It could easily come across that Stone (or Garrison) have all the answers but they don't. This is a film that endeavours to get to the root of the truth. Many questions will remain unanswered but it's also not the type of film that claims to provide them. Some information is pure speculation but the very place where Stone succeeds is his ability to instil debate. He welcomes it and the film is far more powerful because of it. It's a tangled web that has been weaved and Stone deserves the utmost respect in tackling it head on. What's most impressive though is that it's never boring. With all the details, it could be in danger of losing the audiences attention but it doesn't and this is thanks-in-large to editor's Pietro Scalia and Joe Hutshing in skilfully piecing all the fragmented narrative strands together. They won an Oscar for their work and deservingly so. Another deserving Oscar winner was cinematographer Robert Richardson for his marvellous attention to detail in capturing the look and feel of the 1960's. Amongst the the brisk pace and attention to detail is an abundant cast of quality actors and no matter how small the role, each of them get a chance to shine; Gary Oldman makes a perfect Oswald and other notable displays from Kevin Bacon, Joe Pesci, John Candy, Donald Sutherland and an Oscar nominated turn from Tommy Lee Jones as eccentric socialite, Clay Shaw. It's Costner who is the main focus here though and he delivers a solid and determined performance. More importantly, he's an appealing presence which is very much required when the film steps over the 3 hour mark. He captures the obsession of Garrison and in a lot of ways makes it our own; his dogged determination for answers reflecting ours. When all the dust has settled, the film culminates into a conventional court room drama but still remains riveting. It's during this time that despite some shocking revelations earlier in the film that Stone finishes with aplomb and takes his chance to disclose some staggering pieces of information.
A conspiracy theorists dream, that may take some criticism for being hypothetical or one-sided but there's no denying Stone's bravery or his skill in encapsulating the paranoia and unrest at this time in history.
cosmo313
Super Reviewer
March 13, 2011
Please note that this review is over the director's cut of the film, clocking in at about 205 minutes.

Everyone knows John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated, but the case was never open and shut from the beginning, and with this film, Oliver Stone hoped to show that. What we have here is a dramatized take on the efforts of New Orleans District Attorney and his team of colleagues to bring to light various conspiracies surrounding the death of JFK, including the only (to this date) public trial concerning the event.

I knew from the beginning that this film was going to be heavy on historical revision, rejection/ignorance (as in purposely ignoring) of historical fact, and tons of conjecture, a lot of times without evidence, or at least substantial and credible amounts of it. I knew there'd be more questions and answers. And I knew that in general this film was going to be pretty inaccurate and take as much dramatic license as possible in the name of telling a great, engaging, and absorbing story.

And, now that I've seen it, I can easily say that yes, this is a riveting cinematic experience. But, I do think it's overrated and not the full on masterpiece it's been touted as being. However, if you treat the film as having no relation to reality in any way whatsoever, ie as just a fictional investigation into a fictional assassination, it still holds up as a wonderful story about a guy determined to bring about truth and justice. But, it's not totally fictional. It's a look at probably the most well known assassination of all time.

I honestly don't know what to believe in watching the film, and I'm not sure if Stone really knows the truth either. I'm not sure anyone does. That's not the point. The fact that people obsess over this case is a testament to its power. The fact that this is such a talked about and controversial movie is an even further testament to the strength of things.

Despite some dodgy writing and conclusions, this film is a brilliant show of cinematography and editing, especially with the editing. The presentation, like some of Stone's other works, is a frenetic, schizophrenic explosions of various filters, lenses, formats, styles, and techniques, all in the name of artistry, symbolism, or some other sort of important reason. And...it works. It definitely makes for a unique experience, that's for sure.

Don't ask me to name the whole cast. That'd be insane. I think Stone may have out Altmaned Altman on this one. The choices are excellent though, and it's nice seeing so many notable names, especially since a lot of them are in tiny roles or cameos, and many agreed to take pay cuts to be in the film. Costner is absolutely brilliant as Garrison, and Rooker, Knight, Sanders, and Metcalf are all equally strong as his underlings. Gary Oldman knocks it out of the park as Lee Harvey Oswald, which I expected, but for me, the two best performances after Costner belong to Joe Pesci and Donald Sutherland. Pesci's breakdown and Suther;and's monologue rank as some of the best moments of their respective careers, and the final courtroom monologue given by Costner is one of the most epic things ever.

I really enjoyed this film despite its flaws. I feel it is definitely an important piece of work, because it really did open up a lot of eyes, and it did so in such a stellar cinematic way, but it didn't shake me enough to warrant the full grade that this sort of thing typcially illicits from me. Defintiely give it a watch though.
TheDudeLebowski65
Super Reviewer
October 31, 2011
I'm not really big into conspiracy theories and all. In fact, I mostly think that conspiracy theorists are nut cases, and quite often lunatics. In regard to Oliver Stone's JFK, the film deals with the conspiracy that there was a second gun man who assisted Lee Harvey Oswald in assassinating John F. Kennedy. JFK is a good conspiracy thriller that I didn't expect to enjoy. However I was pleasantly surprised. Oliver Stone directs an impressive and talented cast of actors here. Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones really shine. I won't go into detail about the films plot as everyone pretty knows the story of this film. I thought that the plot was engaging enough to keep you interested from start to finish. Oliver Stone manages to grab your attention right from the start. The cast that star in this film make this film work well enough, and JFK is a pretty good conspiracy thriller. Though I wasn't particularly blown away by the film, I thought it was pretty good for what it was. JFK is a good film with plenty of twists to keep you guessing till the very end. Oliver Stone manages to keep you interested as the film demands the viewer to answer the questions that the film asks. Though I'm not really big into Oliver Stone films, JFK did entertain me, and if you enjoy conspiracy thrillers, you're most likely going to enjoy this one. The cast is terrific, and there are some great performances here and the film is complimented by a good story. I personally think that there wasn't a conspiracy in the JFK assassination, but to those who are interested in the topic; this film will definitely appeal to you.
Super Reviewer
April 10, 2007
A great story, fantastic editing and awesome cinematography make JFK's 3 and half hour run-time fly by.
blkbomb
Super Reviewer
May 16, 2011
Jim Garrison: It's gonna be OK, Dave. You just talk to us on the record, we'll protect you. I guarantee it.
David Ferrie: They'll get to you too. They'll destroy you. They're untouchable, man.

JFK is an amazing look at a possible conspiracy to kill the president. It is painstakingly well made. Anybody who complains about the running time did not watch the movie close enough. There is so much material in this film, I'm suprised it didn't run 4 and a half hours. Just like Jim Garrison, the film never slows down. The film does open up a lot of ideas about what really happened, but the great thing about this movie is that it can be enjoyed no matter if you believe parts of what they are saying or not. The cast is absolutely amazing in this movie. It's scene after scene of recognizable faces and big names. Costner, Jones, Oldman, Spacek, Pesci, Laurie Metcalf, Gary Grubbs, Jay O Sanders, Vincent D'Onorfio, John Candy, and Donald Sutherland, and the list goes on, but thats who I remember. It's an amazingly well shot film and it it won the Best Cinematography Oscar. Kevin Costner is electric in his role and his last speech during the trial of Clay Shaw is powerful and really well executed. The film shows us glaring faults in the investigation of JFK and then basically tells us to go find the truth. The film is dedicated to the young who seek the truth. This is Oliver Stones best film by far and the guy has made some really good movies; Platoon, Wall Street, Salvador, and the always overlooked Talk Radio. The subject definitely deserves thought and this film gives us a point to start at.
garyX
Super Reviewer
½ April 14, 2007
District Attorney Jim Garrison looks into the shooting of president Kennedy and finds so many discrepancies and loose ends he brings a criminal case to expose those who he believes were truly responsible. The quality of Oliver Stone's various projects has varied wildly during his career, but this conspiracy thriller based on that infamous event in US history counts as one of his best. Some of the "facts" are no doubt dubious at best, but what he does create is an intense and believable drama with the aid of a superb, generation spanning all-star cast. The investigation, although very wordy and convoluted, is a lot more involving than the likes of All the President's Men and the powerful courtroom recreation of the events of that day is absolutely fascinating. At a monumental 3 hours long it is something of an undertaking, but despite the usual inclusion of mawkish family drama, it holds the attention throughout. The biggest irony is that people actually used to believe in such elaborate conspiracy theories; my question is, why would they bother? In recent times with phantom WMDs, Guantanomo and hanging chads, governments have perpetrated appalling frauds and crimes against their people in plain sight, but the sad fact is that as long as they have their shopping malls, happy meals and Celebrity Dancing On Ice, nobody actually gives a shit.
Super Reviewer
½ October 24, 2007
Fearless, extremely dedicated look on the assassination of John Kennedy and whether it was a government conspiracy. Even if you think the plot is preposterous when you first hear of it, you can't helped but get sucked in the way this movie is done. Costner's awesome performance as a man searching for the truth is one that is extremely arresting, not to mention the various cases and counterarguments the movie makes that (whether fact or not) prove to be extremely riveting. The flashback style of color to black-and-white is a touch of genius as far as director Stone is concerned, as this is a near flawless piece with a lot of good actors playing very convincing roles (why did Jay O. Sanders' career never take off?) One of the best crime dramas I can remember in a while, joining the ranks of movies like "The Departed" and "The Dark Knight".
Super Reviewer
March 30, 2010
In terms of effective storytelling, this is Oliver Stone‚??s greatest achievement. The amount of research, time and energy that went into this movie really shines through. It‚??s not just an erroneous conspiracy theory, but a highly justified examination of our government and misinformation regarding political issues. On a technical note, JFK is also one of Oliver Stone‚??s best shot films. In many ways it is a beautiful piece to look at, regardless of content. The attention to detail concerning film stock, found footage mixed with the movie is extremely impressive. I love how they would use B&W cameras, 8mm & 16mm just to show you different parts of the history surrounding the case. It also has an unbelievable cast led by a wonderful Kevin Costner. It‚??s completely mesmerizing on so many levels. Even if you‚??re a non-believer, you can still appreciate it for being a great work of art.
FilmFanatik
Super Reviewer
May 3, 2007
Oliver Stone makes you question things. He's pretty good at that. This is a terrific film and worth several viewings.
Super Reviewer
August 10, 2006
My first viewing of this film and from others I am led to believe that even the details of the film are incorrect and almost a conspiracy in itself??

As possibly one of the biggest conspiracy theories in history, the film is big in terms of it?s star cast, it?s investigation, the content and script with some dialogue running for a fair while without breaking scenes, (in particular the scene with Donald Sutherland).

Good performances all around and made for intriguing viewing.
Super Reviewer
February 5, 2007
Nobody makes films like Oliver Stone. JFK challenges you, disturbs you, and dares you to question everything the political body does. This is the best film of the 90s.
LorenzoVonMatterhorn
Super Reviewer
½ October 24, 2008
"The Story That Won't Go Away"

A New Orleans DA discovers there's more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story.

REVIEW
The assassination of JFK has been told in every possible way through every available medium. Oliver Stone managed the unimaginable transforming and almost folk tragedy, through a mix of drama and cinema veritŤ, into a riveting mystery thriller with the paranoiac style of a man who's in touch with paranoia in a quasi permanent basis. Unnerving, frustrating and spectacularly satisfying. Kevin Costner manages to be convincing as the center piece of the conspiracy theory. We believe the whole damn thing because we see it through his logic. Sissy Spacek, as his wife, represents most us and she does it brilliantly. Tommy Lee Jones and Kevin Bacon are a pleasure to watch. Donald Sutherland, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau and even John Candy, Sally Kirkland and Vincent D'Onofrio deliver little parts of the puzzle without ever becoming distracting. Gary Oldman is a chilling dead ringer for Lee Harvey Oswald. For film lovers, for history nuts, for pop culture fanatics and for conspiracy theorists, this is a must.
Super Reviewer
January 24, 2009
Thrilling docudrama about a very sketchy assassination. While some points are overdramaticized, I'm now really curious about the physics of the whole thing. It just doesn't make sense that there was one gunman, let alone Oswald from the book depository. I also enjoyed the unapologetic call to question one's government with critical doubt and earnest curiousity. That's what it's there for.
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2009
One of the bestest thriller and among my toppest favorites. Oliver Stone must have fabricated the facts, but it maybe for making the movie more interesting.

A MUST WATCH, if you haven't already.
Super Reviewer
July 30, 2007
This is one of the first movies I saw as a kid that said something rather than just entertained.
Super Reviewer
August 1, 2007
I bought the director's cut about a month ago and since then, I was afraid to dive into it for 205 minutes - the longest movie I've seen to date. When I started it, I just could not believe that, actually, this movie was that long. It was so greatly made, so entertaining that I didn't see the time pass at all ! Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman's performances were great, but what impressed me the most is Oliver Stone's directing who, for me, would have deserved every awards on earth !
WHAT A GREAT PIECE OF WORK !
The story Stone's JFK tells shocked me like no movie shocked me in a long time. Seems stupid, but it changed my point of view of how far United States government could go to get what it wants.
JFK is one of the most POWERFUL movies I've seen in my life. One that I'll remember for the rest of my days.
Super Reviewer
½ November 19, 2007
I've often heard people give Oliver Stone shit and it constantly puzzles me. I'm definitely not big on all his work, but he has made at least a couple great films: Natural Born Killers and this one, JFK, which I finally watched, This is the quintessential film about the Kennedy assassination, detailing a case brought by the District Attorney of New Orleans, Jim Garrison, beginning three years after the actual assassination. I don't think conspiracy films get much better than this. First of all, the cast is exceptional. Kevin Costner reminds me why I love him so much (and also hate when people shit on him) and puts in what is probably his career performance as Jim Garrison; we're right with him as he delves deeper and deeper into the conspiracy and he's just excellent. The rest of this huge cast also shines; notably Joe Pesci, Gary Oldman, Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, John Candy, et al. I also love how the film is made. Much like in Natural Born Killers, Oliver Stone magically blends a variety of different mediums, from stock footage to photographs to the actual filmed scenes to scenes recreating real footage to surveillance videos - this is a technique that probably turns a lot of people off of Stone's films but I really like it and it's used amazingly here. The plot is woven beautifully, and despite the verbose amount of facts, evidence, and speculations presented in the film it never really gets muddled (though I'm sure it would if you weren't paying close attention). The whole trial scene is awesome, and Costner pulls out one of the all-time great closing argument speeches in film. This is a must-see if you have any interest at all in the Kennedy assassination and the conspiracies surrounding it.
thmtsang
Super Reviewer
November 10, 2007
Good cast but too much detail and slow pace to keep the audience's attention.
Super Reviewer
May 25, 2007
Oliver Stone's best film, intricated and fascinating. excellent cast. one of the greatest montages ever made.
deano
Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2007
For over three hours, it grabs me by the throat and throws me into an all to real chapter of US history. With a massive cast of pros, led by then popular new star Kevin Coster, Olive Stone's visual and aural assault shows a director at the peak of his powers.
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