American History X - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

American History X Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ July 12, 2007
I haven't wanted to watch this as I was afraid of more Hollywood racist propaganda. Boy was I surprised when the propaganda turned out to be of the liberal variety instead. Regardless of the movie-of-the-week underpinnings, the acting is first rate, Norton and Furlong turning in superlative work.
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2007
One of the most powerful films I've ever seen, with an incredible lead performance from Edward Norton. The overall message of the movie is extremely important - that even the most heinous and hateful of people can change, as seen by the slow-burn approach of Norton's friendship with a black man in prison. The ending always gets me, it's a heart-wrenching finale that is hard to watch but extremely appropriate. This is a film everyone should see.
Super Reviewer
½ April 17, 2014
Powerful and gripping from beginning to end. American History X provides a great performance from Edward Norton and a graphic tale involving the influences of society in the household and relationships. Very explicit, destructive and compelling, the film makes a strong mark that's as challenging as its direction. 4.5/5
Super Reviewer
½ July 25, 2013
As intense as its message is inspiring, American History X is a movie that gets into your brain and wont leave. Ed Norton gives a very powerful performance as the hate spewing neo-nazi Derek Vinyard that goes through major changes when faced with doing three years in a jail cell. A film that is as shocking as it is outstanding. Once you watch American History X, it sticks with you. I highly recommend it.
Super Reviewer
½ November 20, 2012
With a tour de force performance from Edward Norton, this nightmare on film will stick with you.
Super Reviewer
½ August 6, 2012
A provocative but realistic and thoughtful examination of racism, prejudice, brainwashing, and hatred in society. Featuring great performances from Edward Norton and Edward Furlong. Not a particularly easy film to watch due to the violent content but this film is important nonetheless and should be viewed along with Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing' when trying to understand the racial fracturing that exists in modern society.
Super Reviewer
July 29, 2010
My reaction to this powerhouse critical darling is a bit mixed. It's nothing if not a tolerant, realistic, masterful film that features the performances of two talented actors with their own striking resumes: Edward Norton and Edward Furlong. It does cover the many different facets of the racism, brainwashing, and tactics of large, fatalistic cults or factions such as the neo-Nazis. The film follows the downfall of an intelligent young man in Venice Beach who begins a faction of neo-Nazis under the mind changing logic of a mastermind fiend. Edward Norton portrays Darren Vinyard, the changed man out of the penal system, and Furlong plays his brother, affected by his brother's domineering presence and following in his footsteps. The film deals with the plot through many different flashbacks, most of them through the perspective of Derek's brother, Danny. Otherwise it plays in real time, following Derek out of prison, the life of his brother at his school, and the effect his incarcertaion has had on his family. There are some morose supporting performances from Elliott Gould, Beverly D'Angelo, and Fairuza Balk. Even Ewen Bremner appears as a grotesque neo-Nazi who has a character with the same thoughtless mouth as real people I've met time and again in my own life. The guiding force, or changing influence in the film is taken by both brothers' school principal who seems to be a larger active presence than need be. He's a do gooder, a man of color so his words aren't taken outright, and every word he speaks drips with thoughtful empathy, encouragment, and upright pretension. Though the film does do its duty of unearthing the pained politics of the racist factions in our society still today, it's almost heavyhanded with its blatant approach at seeming enlightening. The ending, though obvious from the flow of the film, was abrupt and strange. The original director, Tony Kaye, tried to get his name taken off the credits, and the final cut of the film was the third altogether. The violence was the most jarring aspect, as it wasn't needless. It kept me shaken, and kept me thinking afterward, which was the objective in the first place. I found it to be interesting, poignant, and thoughtful, and yet flawed throughout. Definitely see for the bitter performances and staying power.
Super Reviewer
August 15, 2011
American History X is a incredible and brilliant view on racism that has become one of the most loved and acclaimed films of all time. The plot shows us the terrible views of racism and how the people who support it are like, the film does this without feeling like an after school special that wants us to stay away from the KKK (see how I rhymed there), it does it incredibly just by showing us what that kind of like could happen to a man like Derek Vinyard, who is simply just a brilliant character and was amazing to watch, his brother Danny represents how racism spreads through family and how we should teach them not to treat other this way. The cast is great as well, Edward Norton plays his best performance I have ever seen since Fight Club and this may be the best acting of his career. Edward Furlong was also great and was the best child performance of 1998 and he did an amazing job. American History X is one of my favorite films of all time. It is intense, vulgar, and overall truthful which is what made it so genius, but overall just an incredible film that most people I think need to experience.
Super Reviewer
½ June 11, 2007

A hauntingly powerful film that will stay with you long after you've watched it. A performance so believable by Ed Norton and such a great physical transformation that he truly forced the way through on White Supremacy creating a very controversial film. A story of misdirected hate and anger.

One of the best prison films made, with some harsh truths of prison politics, a good role for Edward Furlong too.
Super Reviewer
½ December 25, 2006
One of the ringleaders of a Nazi skinhead gang is imprisoned for the murder of a black car thief, but whilst cut off from his peers he begins to question all of the principals he has based his life upon. American history X is an extremely powerful examination of racial politics in contemporary America, seen from the standpoint of a High School boy who idolises his older brother, the afore-mentioned skin head. It shows how the seeds of racism can be sown through the seemingly innocuous comments of those who shape our young minds and how charismatic charlatans can exploit the disenfranchised for their own agenda by spouting superficially convincing sounding, pseudo-intellectual bullshit that seems to fill the void of their hope-free, hate fuelled lives. The cast are all extremely convincing in their roles and there are some extremely powerful scenes that will stay with you a long time. It's an extremely relevant drama because all of these points can be applied just as much to other forms of extremism; Stacy Keach's insidious white supremacist could just as easily be a fundamentalist Imam preaching hatred toward the "infidel". The only off note in the concept is that the ending feels a little contrived, but it's one of the most intelligent as well as well meaning dramas on the subject I've ever seen. A must see.
Super Reviewer
October 1, 2010
There are not many prison drama's about life that truly have no flaws, but this film definitely proves that a human life, no matter what race, culture, or heritage they may be, we live in an indecent world. To the bear bone story of a Nazi war fighter thrown in prison, to the release and personality change of his character, this film represents film in it's finest hour. The black and white reflections that are an ongoing occurrence throughout the coarse of this film are breathtaking and it makes you feel like you are in the persons shoes as they reflect what past events brought upon such a brutal present and soon to be future. Family is forever, no matter is death ends it early, and this is exactly what the point of this film is. It may have it's moments that are hard to watch, but it is so brutally true that you have to keep yourself glued to the screen and feel the pain. American History X is not only an amazing film, but one of the best I have ever seen!
Super Reviewer
½ July 31, 2011
RAW! Be ready for this one. Loved it.
Super Reviewer
½ August 22, 2010
Great movie! Extemely powerful and touching unlike any other film. Edward Norton gives a stellar performance here, deserving of his Oscar nomination. The supporting cast also gives great performance, Beverly D'Angelo and Edward Furlong in particular. This is an incredible, moving film. You cannot miss this!
Super Reviewer
May 25, 2011
American History X is the greatest movie on racism ever made. Edward Norton is completely convincing in his role as both a skinhead and also as a reformed racist. I love the way black and white is used for the parts when he was a racist and the way color was used for the scenes in which he had changed.
Super Reviewer
½ March 14, 2011
Incredible. American History X is a film that breaks though racial boundaries and exposes the vulgarity of hate crimes. The acting is great and a lot of the scenes are very thought provoking. This is a highly recommended that will put your thoughts in motion.
Super Reviewer
½ February 26, 2011
Edward Norton is an acting heavy-weight, we're all aware of that. But this creation - this is something different. Watch and prepare to feel like your innards are being ripped out. Very unsettling drama.
Super Reviewer
½ September 4, 2007
Can't believe ive waited so long to actually watch this film.
This is truly one amazing movie.
I love the way this movie was done and portrayed to the audience.
I absolutely love the storyline, where one mans influences and thouhts and atitudes are squashed and turned upside down when he has bad experiences whilst in prison.
i love this movie really worth the watch.
Super Reviewer
January 31, 2011
In many ways, American History X is one of the most ambitious movies ever made. It manages to analyze racism in a way that no other movie has come close to doing. Sure it's shocking and disturbing at times, but I love it for not toning down the gravity of the subject matter. Part of why this is so convincing is because of the tour de force from Edward Norton, he is incredibly intimidating and genuine at the same time. The writing is intelligent to say the least, the characters have reasoning for their actions and Neo-Nazis aren't just being depicted as generic villains who are nothing but evil.
Super Reviewer
June 21, 2010
I have never seen a film with such a powerful message as American History X. Unlike most films dealing with race issues (Spike Lee films for the most part) American History X obviously attacks the racial problem without feeling preachy. Tony Kaye's film is a very powerful study in race issues in America. The film explores the cost of racism of a family that has dealt with the issue. Derek Vineyard is a reformed skinhead trying to go straight after he is released from prison after a hate crime involving him killing three Crip gang members. His Brother Danny is in awe of his brother, and starts following in his footsteps. Now Derek must save his brother before it's too late. Edward Norton deserved an Oscar for his portrayal of Derek Vinyard. The transformation he undertakes from racist skinhead to reformed skinhead is impressive, the way Norton plays both sides of the character is phenomenal. This is one of his best roles. American History X is an excellent thought provoking film about the negativity of racism and the price it costs. A strong message is conveyed within the film. The subject matter is a hard one, and the film is an unrelenting, brutal wake up call. The story is a about a reformed skin head trying to prevent his younger brother to go down the same path. A truly intense film to watch, American History X is also a very important one to watch. The subject matter is controversial, but really I think that this film is a much needed kick in the ass that people need to stop hating. This film is supported by a very good cast of actors, and the standout performance here is truly Edward Norton who shines and plays the part of skin head and reformed skin head beautifully well. Brutal, but necessary; American History X will definitely open your eyes and provoke some thoughts on the issue of racism. A film not to miss. American History X is the most important film on racism since 1988's Mississippi Burning. A very intense masterwork dealing with an important issue.
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