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The Reckoning (2004)



Average Rating: 5.5/10
Critic Reviews: 31
Fresh: 13 | Rotten: 18

A talky, ponderous movie.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 4,686

My Rating

Movie Info

Scottish filmmaker Paul McGuigan directs The Reckoning, based on the award-winning novel Morality Play by Barry Unsworth. Set in 14th century England, the story involves a priest named Nicholas (Paul Bettany) who leaves the church after committing adultery. He falls in with a troupe of traveling actors led by Martin (Willem Dafoe). Nicholas joins them and attracts the attention of Martin's sister Sarah (Gina McKee). The group ends up in a small town where a mute woman (Elvira Minguez) is accused

Aug 3, 2004

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All Critics (94) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (52) | DVD (9)

After a first hour slowed by exposition and a good deal of extraneous subplot development, the story catches fire in the second hour and keeps you engrossed.

April 1, 2004
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's not Shakespeare in Love, and it really has no third act, but there's wonder in the scenes of theatrical invention, of theater being made up on the spot, a play in the making.

March 26, 2004 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A thoughtful, clever and well-acted diversion.

March 26, 2004
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An ambitious, energetic and wholly satisfying movie about the dawn of dramatic and personal freedom and much more.

March 25, 2004
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Celebrates the craft of acting both in its story and in fine performances by Paul Bettany, Willem Dafoe and Brian Cox.

March 19, 2004 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Once the actors set up shop, and Nicholas gets obsessively involved in proving Martha's innocence, melodrama and ponderousness encroach.

March 19, 2004 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[It's] a film with a lot on its mind -- perhaps too much. ... As it is, philosophical dilemmas spread through the film like a plague until they finally claim its life.

February 1, 2005
Christianity Today

It's disappointing that The Reckoning devolves into a costumed murder mystery a la Jean-Jacques Annaud's 1986 film of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose.

January 29, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Although raising intriguing questions about the moral obligation dramatists have to throw a spotlight on taboo subjects, The Reckoning offers simplistic solutions.

June 8, 2004 Full Review Source: BBC

Builds cleverly as the mystery deepens, then struggles to bring it all to a conclusion.

June 5, 2004 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

A well-done murder mystery.

June 3, 2004
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wraps itself around Bettany's guilty secrets like a hot-water bottle, leaving more interesting characters in the moral cold

June 2, 2004 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

A multilayered snapshot of a decayed and disintegrating feudal system that richly develops themes and characters with an eerie modern resonance.

May 13, 2004 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

It is, despite the distractions, just a simple murder story, and the revelations in the end are hardly surprising or noteworthy.

April 24, 2004 Full Review Source:

As an existential awakening into the light and triumph of rational thought over superstition, it's an engaging film, but as a murder mystery it plods along as though weighted down by the heavens and more.

April 17, 2004 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

A challenging and thought-provoking film.

April 16, 2004 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

... the premise and setting that are intriguing, but the obvious foreshadowing and labored attempt to slowly unravel the facts surrounding the plot are drawbacks.

April 9, 2004 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

All that black, combined with the mundanity of the second act, induces us to close our eyes.

April 9, 2004 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

May be as dreary and hopeless as the Middle Ages themselves.

April 9, 2004 Full Review Source: eye WEEKLY

The interesting insights give way to undercover constables, and gut-spilling villains

April 9, 2004 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

Collapses under the weight of unlikely melodrama and over-pretty visual flourishes...

April 5, 2004
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

It's as if the filmmakers had a 14th-century audience in mind, one that had never seen a movie.

April 2, 2004 Full Review Source: Oregonian

It's nothing new to see a film that is better in concept than execution, or a film that wastes a talented cast. Sadly, The Reckoning does both.

April 2, 2004 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

That rare period drama that enlivens a historical era rather than feeling mired in it.

April 2, 2004 Full Review Source: Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune

A fascinating, dark mystery that echoes aspects of The Name of the Rose and TV's Cadfael.

April 1, 2004
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Audience Reviews for The Reckoning

Well, I have most definitely become a Paul Bettany fan. This movie was really good, and of course he was outstanding in it. The rest of the cast did a great job, also, but I think that he really made this film work. Great storyline, and great camera work.
October 14, 2010

Super Reviewer

Turgid and uninsipired.
February 4, 2010
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

A very compelling and entertaing epic mystery. Well-written and very well-performed by it's cast. A dark, riveting and thrilling film. Willem Dafoe and Paul Bettany are extroadinary.
February 1, 2008

Super Reviewer

Starts a little slow but you get captured up in this. I enoyed it, If you like British Film, then you will enjoy this one. For some a rental, other will find it a must for a well Rounded DVD collection.
December 3, 2007
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

    1. Lord de Guise: Between faith and reason lies the only true God--power.
    – Submitted by Frances H (16 months ago)
    1. Lord de Guise: We decide our destiny. Fate is the religion of the weak. And you don't strike me as weak.
    – Submitted by Frances H (16 months ago)
    1. Nicholas: You soothe your conscience with grand phrases, but it's a weak, contemptible man who trades in the lives of others.
    – Submitted by Frances H (16 months ago)
    1. Martin: I wish I was half the man my father was and half the father you deserve.
    – Submitted by Frances H (16 months ago)
    1. Martin: For heaven's sake, we're actors, not judges.
    2. Nicholas: That's exactly what we have become.
    – Submitted by Frances H (16 months ago)
    1. Jack Flint: Who dares play things that happen in this world?
    2. Tobias: It was just a question of time.
    3. Martin: But this is the way plays will be made in times to come.
    – Submitted by Frances H (16 months ago)
View all quotes (7)

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