Into The Abyss Reviews

Top Critic
Ben Walters
Time Out
March 27, 2012
The result is gripping, moving and revelatory, an unabashed if implicit critique of the death penalty.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
December 16, 2011
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
December 9, 2011
Herzog is pursuing no agenda with Into the Abyss, despite his opposition to extreme judicial measures. He's seeking to answer the question of why people kill, especially in a situation such as this where the reason for the murders was so meaningless.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
December 2, 2011
Into the Abyss does what too few documentaries these days do - it gives ample play to all sides of the argument. Herzog allows us to think things through on our own.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
November 30, 2011
The overriding point of Into the Abyss, what keeps this sad, sorrowful film from becoming depressing and elevates it far above the usual chatter of liberal-conservative debate, is that there can be light on the other end of even the darkest of tunnels.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Calvin Wilson
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
November 23, 2011
"Into the Abyss" makes a strong case for the inhumanity of capital punishment, regardless of the crime or the criminal.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Peter Debruge
Variety
November 18, 2011
Herzog's investigation may not work as an anti-death-penalty editorial, but its findings are undeniably profound.
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Sheri Linden
Hollywood Reporter
November 18, 2011
A disquieting, heartbreaking look at American crime and punishment.
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Tom Long
Detroit News
November 18, 2011
The abyss here isn't capital punishment, the ostensible subject of the film; it's the seemingly unending capacity for causing and enduring pointless misery that humans seem to have.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
November 17, 2011
It's an uneven movie, but a heartfelt and honest one.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
November 17, 2011
An inquiry into fundamental moral, philosophical, and religious issues, and an examination of humankind's capacity for violence - individual and institutional.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
November 15, 2011
Watching Into the Abyss, I had the overwhelming sense that, somewhere along the way, Werner Herzog lost his way.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
November 14, 2011
It's like a TV crime reality show made by an alien.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
November 11, 2011
What could have been a well-aimed examination of the most troubling contradictions of capital punishment instead becomes a maudlin, unrestrained wallow.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/4
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Kyle Smith
New York Post
November 11, 2011
Werner Herzog looks at the death penalty in "Into the Abyss," and as is almost always the case, to look through his eyes is to marvel.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Elizabeth Weitzman
New York Daily News
November 10, 2011
Any subject Werner Herzog wants to explore is surely worthy of our interest. And his latest documentary is a characteristically insightful study of human nature.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
November 10, 2011
Not since Errol Morris' masterwork of investigative documentary, "The Thin Blue Line," has a filmmaker had such an easy time of making the death penalty-crazed state of Texas look quite so casually venal.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
November 10, 2011
The paradox of this film is that it is both unremittingly bleak and rigorously humane.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Betsy Sharkey
Los Angeles Times
November 10, 2011
What is missing is something new - clarity, insight, outrage. Instead, its understatement is ultimately its undoing.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
November 10, 2011
The movie's an "In Cold Blood'' with a patient, persistent German interlocutor instead of Truman Capote turning cartwheels in prose.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
November 10, 2011
The title of this Werner Herzog documentary may suggest another expedition to the ends of the earth, but what concerns him here is the moral abyss of capital punishment and the metaphysical abyss of death itself.
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Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
November 10, 2011
It provides intimate glimpses of people usually seen, and then only briefly, as faces on a post-office wall or numbers in a cemetery.
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
November 10, 2011
It's really just a rambling episode of A Current Affair.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Scott Tobias
AV Club
November 10, 2011
[It] powerfully suggests that violent death of any kind, whether personal or state-mandated, transforms everyone in its vicinity.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
November 10, 2011
I've long felt Herzog's personality is compelling and penetrating, and in evidence I could offer this film about Texans who are so different from the West German director.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
November 8, 2011
Regardless of your own stance on the death penalty, it's impossible not to be shaken by the senseless loss depicted in "Into the Abyss," the overwhelming sadness, but also the possibility of spiritual redemption.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out
November 8, 2011
Into the Abyss is too self-admiring of its own loose ends to come to the indictment that would put it in the company of The Thin Blue Line, but these personalities stay in your head-which is the whole point.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Michelle Orange
Village Voice
November 8, 2011
An egalitarian study of crime and punishment in a small Southern town, Into the Abyss is also an unmistakably Herzogian inquiry into the lawlessness of the human soul.
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David Denby
New Yorker
November 7, 2011
You come out shaken by the fathomless destructiveness of idiocy and the healing powers of belief and remediation.