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Blow Out

Blow Out (1981)



Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 41
Fresh: 37 | Rotten: 4

With a story inspired by Antonioni's Blow Up and a style informed by the high-gloss suspense of Hitchcock, DePalma's Blow Out is raw, politically informed, and littered with film references.


Average Rating: 6.9/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 2

With a story inspired by Antonioni's Blow Up and a style informed by the high-gloss suspense of Hitchcock, DePalma's Blow Out is raw, politically informed, and littered with film references.



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Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 10,733

My Rating

Movie Info

Brian De Palma's homage to Michelangelo Antonioni's classic art movie Blow-Up (1966) blends suspense and political paranoia when a Philadelphia soundman inadvertently records a murder. Former police technician Jack Terri (John Travolta) makes his living doing sound for slasher flicks. While recording new outdoor effects one night, Jack witnesses a couple's car careen off a bridge into a river, but he can save only the female occupant, Sally (Nancy Allen). Jack begins to suspect something when he


Mystery & Suspense

Aug 28, 2001

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All Critics (41) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (37) | Rotten (4) | DVD (20)

Perfectly contrasts movies that reveal the truth against those which avoid it - a blood-drenched yet stake-free slasher vs. the far more insidious horrors of all-American living.

April 30, 2011 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This 1981 release is one of Brian De Palma's more interesting and better-made thrillers, though it's even more abjectly derivative than his Hitchcock imitations.

March 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

With attractive leads and a stylish flair for suspense, De Palma misses sustaining involvement by his distracting allusions to prior films.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a great movie.

May 28, 2008 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Where Antonioni's images made you think, De Palma's merely make you blink, and the baroque plot confuses as often as it frightens.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A movie which continues [De Palma] practice of making cross-references to other movies, other directors, and actual historical events, and which nevertheless is his best and most original work.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If cynicism were a superhero franchise, Blow Out would be its origin story.

May 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

The final moments of Blow Out are among the most shocking and powerful of De Palma's oeuvre, tacking a final note of irony onto a story that is in every other way a straightforward denunciation of power run amok.

May 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Blow Out integrates De Palma style with narrative urgency and thematic consistency better than any of his films.

May 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

In the amazingly hyperbolic finale, DePalma conflates patriotism, dirty tricks, violence against women, and slasher movies into a single sick joke.

August 20, 2009 Full Review Source: City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul

There are some neat performances, particularly Travolta's convincing bid to be taken seriously after years of being dismissed as frivolous beefcake.

March 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Film4

A forgotten gem.

March 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

An homage to Blow Up that far outstrips the original in emotional immediacy, political sophistication, and visual style.

March 27, 2009 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Original for sure story of Travolta's movie sound effects guy recording a real murder.

February 21, 2008

Blow Out is not known as one of Brian De Palma's horror movies, but of all his films, it's the one that feels most like a nightmare.

August 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

the filmmakers seem more concerned with their art or their in-jokes than with satisfying an audience

July 21, 2006

A well-crafted Hitchcockian-style thriller with De Palma again in top form. It's a mystery why this fizzled at the box office in the summer of 1981.

January 24, 2006
Fantastica Daily

One of Travlota's best performances. "Great scream."

January 1, 2005
Nolan's Pop Culture Review

Of all De Palma's movies, Blow Out is the one I most like to see over and over.

October 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for Blow Out

DePalma's most well executed tribute to the master of suspense (Alfred Hitchcock), this film features outstanding set pieces, standout performances from Lithgow, Travolta and Franz and maybe the best use of sound design to build tension.
November 24, 2013
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

A potent thriller from DePalma that borrows from other aspects of cinema to create a visceral experience. Well shot, well acted, and original, 'Blow Out' can find comfort in many film buff's libraries.
September 8, 2013
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer

Jack Terry: So you got your choice. You can be crazy or dead. 

"Murder has a sound all of its own!"

Classic Brian De Palma and classic John Travolta. Blow Out is up there with some of De Palma's best works, and is only held back by an annoying performance from Nancy Allen. The movie isn't quite as good as Dressed to Kill of Scarface, but just a notch below with movies like Carrie and Carlito's Way. 

Jack Terry is out collecting sound for a new horror movie that he is working on. He's a sound man and the director isn't happy with the same old wind sound, so he's out to get a new wind sound. When he's out, he witnesses a car accident that ends up in a river. He jumps in and saves a girl, but another passenger dies. That passenger ends up being a governor and suspected running candidate for the presidency. Everyone is saying it's an accident, but Jack thinks it's more because he swears he heard a gunshot before the blow out. And he has it on tape.

Blow Out is an extremely cool and entertaining piece of filmmaking from De Palma. It also feels like more restrained work from him. It isn't a movie that is obsessed with sex and violence(although there are elements of both). He lets the suspense and tension build to a windup. You still won't have trouble noticing all the elements that make De Palma so easy to spot. If only he didn't like Nancy Allen so much. 

There's a lot to like about the movie, but I especially loved the usage of the scream scenes from the movie that is getting made within Blow Out. There's a lot of foreshadowing with the movie being made and works extremely well. Also, John Travolta is really, really good here. It's up there with his best stuff like Pulp Fiction. There's never a moment in his performance where he seemed fake or like all this wasn't really happening to him. He makes for an incredible hero and really keeps the tension building right along with De Palma's direction. 

Blow Out is another must see film from De Palma. The guy made his share of bad movies for sure, but when he is on his game, he's fucking amazing. I know he is normally a director that you either love or hate, but with this one, I can see even his biggest haters enjoying it. It's just like Lynch's Blue Velvet with me. I despise Lynch, but I really like Blue Velvet. So even if you don't like De Palma, still give this one a look. It may surprise you.
August 4, 2012
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Mixing together Antonioni's Blow-Up and Coppola's The Converation with a bit of (restrained) Argento-esque giallo, Blow Out is Brian De Palma's moody suspenseful political thriller about an average guy caught up in a web of danger following the aftermath of a car crash.

Jack Terry is a soundman who works for low-budget slasher/nudie films. one night, as he is out recording sounds for the latest film he's working on, he records a car crah that turns out to be a murder. Thigns get complicated since the victim happens to be a presidential candidate and the lady that was with him (who Jack saves) was there for scandalous reasons. In the aftermath, Jack struggles to bring the truth to light as other seems bound and determined to cover up the situation and eliminate all people and evidence that might bring the unsavoroy elements to light.

This is a tight, moody, and well made thriller. There's lots of twists and turns, but it's pretty easy to follow. Besides taking influence from Nixonian-era America and the Ted Kennedy car crash incident, this film is also an absorbing look at a technical side of film art that doesn't get enough credit (sound engineering).

Being a De Palma film, there's some of his trademark style and cinematographic hallmarks present, but the film is more restrained than it could have been..and I liked that. It's a good mix of art and exploitation, and it looks and sounds fantastic. Oh yeah, and the performances are great too. Travolta does a wonderful job as the obsessed and troubled Jack, and Nancy Allen is terrific as Sally, the woman Jack saves from the crash. Her scene in the hospital when she's woozy and confused is superb and just a delight to watch. The real force to be reckoned with here though has to be John Lithgow as the "fixer" type of character. Think of Anton Chigurh to a degree, though dialed down just a tad. It's a creepy and nuanced performance, even if there's not much dept hto the character.

This is one of De Palma's stand out films, even if it's not the most original. It's entertaining, well made, and even give you some food for thought. In the end, that's hardly something to complain about, even if the script could have been touched up in places.
May 6, 2012
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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