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Night Moves (2014)


Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 129
Fresh: 110
Rotten: 19

Critics Consensus: A uniquely character-driven thriller with a finely composed cast and some outstanding direction from Kelly Reichardt, Night Moves bolsters its thought-provoking themes with compelling drama.

Average Rating: 7.1/10
Reviews Counted: 40
Fresh: 32
Rotten: 8

Critics Consensus: A uniquely character-driven thriller with a finely composed cast and some outstanding direction from Kelly Reichardt, Night Moves bolsters its thought-provoking themes with compelling drama.


Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 10,157


Movie Info

NIGHT MOVES, the fifth feature film from acclaimed filmmaker Kelly Reichardt, is the story of three radical environmentalists coming together to execute the most intense protest of their lives: the explosion of a hydroelectric dam-the very source and symbol of the energy-sucking, resource-devouring industrial culture they despise. Harmon is a former Marine, radicalized by tours of duty overseas. His life in the military is behind him, but at heart he remains the same reckless alpha male he … More

R (for some language and nudity)
Directed By:
Written By:
Jonathan Raymond , Jon Raymond
In Theaters:
Sep 2, 2014
Box Office:
Cinedigm Entertainment - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Night Moves

All Critics (129) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (110) | Rotten (19) | DVD (1)

I'd say this is a movie about alienation that, in the spirit of the boldest activism, isn't afraid to be ostracized itself. You may beg to differ, and I'd say that's the point.

Full Review… | October 5, 2014
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Night Moves, including its title, borders on generic.

Full Review… | August 8, 2014
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Reichardt wisely leaves it for her audience to decide.

Full Review… | August 7, 2014
Toronto Star
Top Critic

"Night Moves" is an unexpected pleasure, offering more than what we expect and taking its time to deliver.

Full Review… | June 26, 2014
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

You may not buy the third-act developments, but Reichardt and her actors see to it that you believe in how these people got to that third act in the first place.

Full Review… | June 13, 2014
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

"Night Moves" is a study of murky actions, fuzzy ideals and wrong moves for righteous reasons.

Full Review… | June 13, 2014
Detroit News
Top Critic

I'm a great admirer of Reichardt's work, but having watched 'Night Movies' twice, I have to concede that it's something of a dud.

Full Review… | October 20, 2014
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

The subdued acting combines with deliberate editing to slowly ratchet up viewers' nerves.

Full Review… | October 16, 2014

The narrative and visual minimalism, initially such an asset, eventually leaves the audience feeling numb.

Full Review… | September 15, 2014
Concrete Playground

Impatient viewers are likely to complain that Night Moves is too slow and subdued for their tastes, but those in the market for an alternative thriller will find much to enjoy.

Full Review… | September 12, 2014
Flix Capacitor

. A master at understatement, [director Kelly] Reichardt elicits very effective, subdued performances from her key cast, who have to keep the lid on their emotions almost all of the time.

Full Review… | September 12, 2014

It's a very well made film.

Full Review… | September 11, 2014
At the Movies (Australia)

Jesse Eisenberg's performance has an intensity that is deliberately alienating, with Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard solid in support.

Full Review… | September 11, 2014
At the Movies (Australia)

Virtually every shot feels like it adds to Reichardt's vision and it draws so tightly together that by the end, the only people left accessible to the likes of Josh are those in the watching audience. Night Moves makes you an accessory.

Full Review… | September 10, 2014
Sydney Morning Herald

It's an unconventional thriller, more interested in character than plot, but gripping as both.

Full Review… | September 10, 2014
Sydney Morning Herald

After a riveting first half filled with tension and one in which we are left to draw our own conclusions about details and relationships, the remainder of the film fizzles to some extent, diminishing the payoff

Full Review… | September 6, 2014
Urban Cinefile

This is still a powerful film from one of America's best filmmakers who continues to push herself.

Full Review… | September 5, 2014
Madison Movie

Eisenberg is in characteristically intense form, while Sarsgaard and Fanning are solid supports.

Full Review… | September 4, 2014
Daily Record [UK]

if a love of nature is (maybe) the original motor of Josh's actions, human nature, in all its shadowy complexity, is very much the film's focus.

Full Review… | September 1, 2014
Eye for Film

This may be a slow-burning thriller about eco-terrorists, but it's also directed by Kelly Reichardt (Meek's Cutoff), a filmmaker who maintains an oddly aloof perspective while moving at her own steady pace.

Full Review… | September 1, 2014

Reichardt and regular co-writer Jon Raymond display a keen ear for the fragile rhetoric of the self-righteous.

Full Review… | August 31, 2014
Observer [UK]

Here is a thriller that portrays the heavy ramifications of a "justified" crime with a steady, grounded rhythm that gives power to every sin committed.

Full Review… | August 30, 2014
Matt's Movie Reviews

There certainly isn't any extraneous action in Night Moves. But it is precisely its leanness and the tight focus of its storytelling that make it such a tense thriller.

Full Review… | August 29, 2014

Reichardt probes away at her characters' motivations and contradictory feelings. She doesn't judge them, but makes it very clear how quickly their idealism becomes muddied once they dirty their hands with direct action.

Full Review… | August 29, 2014

Taking her cues from Hitchcock, Reichardt invites us to connect (if not quite empathise) with unlikable characters as they attempt to accomplish undesirable outcomes.

Full Review… | August 29, 2014
Irish Times

Audience Reviews for Night Moves

From Jesse Eisenberg at his best, to Dakota Fanning proving she is a worthy actress, you would think that a film like "Night Moves" would have much more to offer than just that, but that is really all I got out of this film in terms of enjoyment. The cinematography is great and the director did an amazing job with the cast, but the story was just not interesting or exciting enough to justify these elements which ended up grabbing my interest and losing it in a matter of minutes periodically throughout this film. In no way is this a bad film, in fact, I can see how some people would call it a masterpiece, but it is a very slow moving picture with little else to offer than technical aspects and great performances. "Night Moves" had a screenplay that did not take any risks and that bothered me a lot. Overall, it is a very well-constructed thriller that I probably will never watch again.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

In her own low key way, Kelly Reichardt continues to move away from character driven movies to more plot driven ones with her latest film "Night Moves." While not entirely successful, she does make a couple of good points about the trouble that saboteurs and terrorists have in trying to get their points across to the general public with their violent acts. On a much more personal level than the plot to bomb a dam in Oregon, there is the trouble that Josh(Jesse Eisenberg) has in communicating his feelings toward Dena(Dakota Fanning), his fellow conspirator, along with Harmon(Peter Sarsgaard), an unreliable veteran, known. In any case, Eisenberg has no trouble conveying his character's emotions without that much dialogue.

But that same low key approach can also work against the movie which does not so much end, as just sort of runs out of gas eventually. Another example would be a key scene that while at first might seem disposable is actually a flashback to the first time Josh meets Dena. It is at a screening of an environmental film. During the Q & A, Dena asks the filmmaker what she can do. It is Josh, scowling in the corner before this, who does have an answer for her.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

It is a very slow paced thriller drama directed by Kelly Reichardt and written by Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond. Interestingly directed, it had lots of substance which gets even better with the stars Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard, Alia Shawkat, and James LeGros. Another of the films shown in the main competition section of the 70th Venice International Film Festival and at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival which definitely needs a special attention!

The story of three radical environmentalists - Josh, Dena, and Harmon, who are teaming up to execute the most spectacular direct action event of their lives: the explosion of a hydroelectric dam, was more story based and the actors were wisely chosen to make that story more effective. Regarding the story, Edward R. Pressman Film filed a lawsuit in September 2012, demanding that filming cease because of too many similarities to Edward Abbey's novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, planned to be adapted into an authorized film by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman.

Kelly Reichardt did a good job, but I wish it was outstanding! There was plenty of room for improvement, but even this was more than enough for a happy audience. The only problem I really had was the ending. Some people claim that it was a smart decision to live the ending to the viewer, but to me the feel was that something was simply unfinished!

Panta Oz

Super Reviewer

As if Jesse Eisenberg wasn't a big enough hipster icon of some sort, here's an obscure drama about extreme environmentalism starring him. Up, it's yet more young movie stars commit acts of eco-terrorism, but no, this isn't really "The East 2", which is good, because this film at least owes me a title that makes me think about something actually entertaining. "Out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy, out in the back seat of my '60 Chevy, workin' on mysteries without any clues... workin' on our night moves, tryin' to make some front page drive-in news!" I bet y'all were on the edge of your seats, either waiting for or fearing that I would make that reference, so there you go, but don't get too excited, because this film is decidedly not as fun as that song, nor is it even nearly as upbeat as its subject matter. Well, at least you can take this film's title more seriously than the title of the novel "The Monkey Wrench Gang", which in turn made the lawsuit that the would-be makers of an adaptation of that novel slapped the makers of this "rip-off" with hard to take seriously. Oh yeah, because otherwise, a lawsuit regarding the similarities between some independent drama and an obscure novel that never actually got adapted could taken as seriously as the eco-terrorist portrayed in this film. Well, I would take this film's messages more seriously if the film was more exciting, which isn't to say that there aren't commendable aspects here.

There's something kind of flat about Christopher Blauvelt's cinematography, which doesn't carry much flash to compensate for the usual technical shortcomings in an independent film like this, and yet, the drabness of the technical shortcomings, combined with a bleak coloration, compliments the sense of grit that defines what effective aspects there are to this overly subtle drama, and aesthetically speaking, the cinematography really comes to life when Blauvelt's lensing falls over near-haunting visuals that stress a particular setting in a fashion which is sometimes all-out lyrical in its providing memorably beautiful imagery, some of which carries purpose and substance. This film's subject matter does not make for all that interesting of a story, but themes regarding the lengths certain people will go to do right by the environment are intriguing in their nature, and that establishes plenty of potential for dramatic intrigue. Every now and then, Kelly Reichardt manages to fulfill this potential, through a script that she co-wrote with frequent collaborator Jonathan Raymond which offers an interestingly meticulous, if tedious study on the process of committing eco-terrorism, and through direction that takes advantage both of Jeff Grace's extremely underused dark ambient score which proves to be lovely and complimentary to the atmosphere's subtle heights in tension, and of the aforementioned haunting visuals which prove to be just as engrossing. What engagement value there is hardly ever is all the effective, but there are indeed some interesting moments in the telling of a rather uninteresting story, and they go anchored mostly by the performances. If nothing else is consistently enjoyable about this film, it is the performances by Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard that, on top of being conventional for the respective thespians, are underwritten, with hardly any extensive material, the limitations of which cannot keep these gifted talents from endearing, and selling a sense of motivation and passion for their characters with more effectiveness than the writers. There's not much of a sense of humanity or exposition to the characters, and on paper, they are by no means likable, but their portrayals are effective enough to join highlights in storytelling in providing glimpses of a more decent and engaging film. Alas, the final product is not quite able to secure its decency, its interesting aspects far outweighed by uninteresting ones, behind a story that isn't even fresh.

We've seen this sort of story before, time and again, and although the problematic storytelling style is rather refreshing, at least for this sort of subject matter, the narrative itself is more of the same, with not enough meat to compensate for familiarity. The film is rather predictable, and although that predictability ends up being the least of this cold non-thriller's worries, you can see what's coming, even though you don't really see much into the characters who drive you through this thin path with even greater thinness. What development there is in this film is dedicated primarily to the themes and pursuits of the characters, rather than the characters themselves, who have no immediate background, or even any gradual characterization or humanizing filler, and no matter how convincing the performances are, you don't get to know these people, which makes you think about how you don't want to know them, what with their coming off as rude and distant, when they're not coming across as extremist in their actions. These characters are not likable, and they're not as unique, nor even as dimensional as they could have been, and despite the genuine performances, they feel like components to themes, with none of the dynamic between the leads of, say, the already underwhelming, thematically similar "The East". The thinly drawn characters reflect a lack of intrigue in the story itself, for this film is largely a study on some radical environmentalists committing an act of eco-terrorism, and once consequences do begin to arise, they're hard to get invested in, not simply because it sees the film jarringly shifting from being strictly an allegory for extreme environmentalism to being a real thriller with dramatic progression, - despite awkwardly all but abandoning all but one of the three leads - but because the story is so uninteresting on the whole that it's near-impossible to get interested all of a sudden. If the glaring inconsistencies on paper don't make getting invested in actual dangers and consequences a near-impossible task, then the storytelling finishes off your investment, because after the eco-terrorist act is committed, Jonathan Raymond and Kelly Reichardt, as screenwriters, focus much less on the plot unraveling and finally doing something, and, as cruel irony would have it, more on sheer nothingness that is just plain tedious, which isn't to say that the film is ever less than boring, for although there are effective moments in storytelling, the writing's meticulous structure and the direction's glacial pace combine to establish a film without momentum that still manages to lose momentum as it goes along. As I said, once the plot begins to thicken, that's really when the tedium kicks in, and at that point, there's just no forgiving Reichardt for her misguidance, punctuated by inspiration that could have saved the film, but cannot obscure the lack of originality, humanity and, of course, excitement that make the final product so mediocre, at best.

Once the thunder finally comes, Bob Seger (Man, I love that song), fitting and sometimes hauntingly beautiful cinematography, intriguing themes, undeniable highlights in subtle and meticulous storytelling, and solid performances by Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard could have saved this film, but under the overwhelming pressure of predictability, undeveloped and unlikable leads, and a glacial pace that only grows more tedious with the progression of a largely uninteresting story, Kelly Reichardt's "Night Moves" collapses as a flat meditation on extreme environmentalism.

2.25/5 - Mediocre

Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron Johnson

Super Reviewer

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