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Prefontaine (1997)



Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 10
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 5

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 7,231

My Rating

Movie Info

This biographical sports drama is the true story of an Olympic runner whose life ended tragically short. Jared Leto stars as Steve Prefontaine, a teen who develops a running talent despite unorthodox physical traits such as a short stature and legs of different lengths. "Pre" is still sufficiently impressive enough on the track field to be recruited by Bill Bowerman (R. Lee Ermey), an Oregon college coach who creates homemade running shoes in his garage. His arrogant attitude vexes even his



Steve James, Eugene Corr

Sep 3, 2002

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All Critics (30) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (11) | DVD (2)

Prefontaine gets to the finish line in reasonable shape despite plenty of sloppy running along the way.

March 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Disappointingly colorless and squeaky-clean.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Though it is always pleasant and agreeable, this film has the bland and undemanding texture that characterizes movies made for network TV.

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

James tries too hard to bring closure to Pre's life, and, as a result, strays a little too far into melodrama. The tearful reminiscences at the end, not to mention some of the stuff at the funeral, lay it on thickly.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: ReelViews
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The Super-16mm film stock gives the film a grainy look that blends in artfully with the vintage videotape of ABC's '72 Olympics coverage.

January 1, 2000
USA Today
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Even through Prefontaine's obviousness, we feel its force.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Steve Prefontaine must have been something special -- everyone says so -- but there's no magic on the screen.

March 14, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

A touching, poignant movie with a great performance by Leto

March 11, 2005

With its moving final scenes and well-developed subject, the story of Steve Prefontaine is a decidedly well-told American tale.

October 19, 2004 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

One of the better sports movies to come from Hollywood in recent years.

February 19, 2004 Full Review

Nothing more than a glorified, profanity-sprinkled made-for-TV movie, from the cast right down to the shallow treatment of its subject.

January 13, 2004 Full Review Source:

Now Steve Prefontaine can be immortalized for the complex and shining star that he was.

May 14, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

Leto is the greatest beneficiary of these moments, seizing upon the opportunity to convincingly capture Prefontaine's egotistical, enigmatic, obsessive, charismatic personality even when the script fails to do so.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

A runner learns some invaluable lessons from his defeat in the Olympics.

February 26, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

The biggest problem is the script, which rarely rings true and is full of trite little phrases.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Internet Reviews
Internet Reviews

Ultimately, the script doesn't give us any real insights into Prefontaine's prickly personality or show us why he needed to prove himself.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

A reasonably good retelling of the life story of Steve Prefontaine.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

The by-the-numbers athlete story is interesting, but leaves no lasting impression.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Cinematter

The film is refreshingly unsentimental, intelligent, and compelling (the race scenes areparticularly effective: even if you know the outcomes, these function as mini-dramas in themselves).

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Philadelphia City Paper
Philadelphia City Paper

Steve James knows his film-making, whether the subject is fact or fiction.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Prefontaine

Good sports movie. Pre-rock star Jared Leto...
October 5, 2010

Super Reviewer

Sports films are boring and if "Chariots of Fire" taught us anything, that rule applies even to films where we get a close view of people running. Wow, when you say it, that actually does sound boring, but not in your head and, well, not here. Man, Jared Leto and his charisma cracked the code and made an entertaining sports film. Of course, what can you expect from a rocker? Oh wait, he's contemporary. Sorry Jared, but no matter how much you yell about kings and queens, if you're not playing Freddie Mercury, I'm not interested, but mostly because you've got to get back into films, because no matter what Edward Norton says, that beautiful thing of yours called acting is far from destroyed... I said only having just seen film he did almost "fifteen" ago. Still, when his career was first blooming, ... Jared Leto was already in movies no one had heard about, which isn't to say that he wasn't good in them, because he really was, and although he carries this film, he doesn't entirely carry it away from its flaws.

As I said earlier, the film isn't particularly boring, like most sports films, but I never said that it wasn't captivating. It's not that the subject isn't fascinating, which it is, but the themes they use in the film, while rather inventive in the biopic genre, aren't handled very well. The film features segments where they show a montage of interviews with Prefontaine's loved ones. It's not quite like "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind", for instead of incorporating that theme in every now and then, this film overdoes that for a long time, making the film feel so much like a documentary and stripping of it of its intimate tone, leaving to feel hollow and unengaging. However, those segments come and go, but when they do finally go, there's such a dent left by the documentary theme and the transitions between the themes are barely palpable, making it hard to get back into the film. Still, getting back into the film would be a much more demanding task were it not for, of course... the great soundtrack. Oh yeah, and let's not forget the acting.

Ed O'Neill and R. Lee Ermey are playing... well, Ed O'Neill and R. Lee Ermey. Still, the two are as charismatic as a coach can get and they work wonders off of Jared Leto, establishing a chemistry that's not terribly explored, yet strong enough for you to enjoy their time together. Still, no matter what, if it's a scene with Jared Leto, it's enjoyable. Okay, now, as much as I've been praising him, he's not terribly stellar, but only because he's not written to be. Still, what he is given to do he milk's for all it's worth with his charisma, emoting and captivatingly striking authenticity as Steve Prefontaine. Still, he's not simply tranforming into Prefontaine. Prefontaine, himself, went through some changes, and Leto's impressively careful, but effective execution of every layer and characteristic in Prefontaine really does top off his transformation and makes him quite a strong enough lead to carry this film from its beginning to its solid ending.

At the end of the race, its messily-handled storytelling techniques put a dent in the engagement value, but with a strong story, carried by an excellent Jared Leto and his chemistry with the charming cast, "Prefontaine" ultimately stands as an entertaining and satisfying study on the rise of the late, great legend of the track.

3/5 - Good
October 11, 2011
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron Johnson

Super Reviewer

While there seem to be many different opinions on weather or not the facts in the film are accurate, the fact remains that this was a fantastic movie that perfectly illustrated the drive and determination that made pre a national icon. Jared Leto is amazing as well. Based on his other work, to be honest, I didn't think he had it in him, but he really surprised me and does an excellent job with the role. It's inspirational and a great tribute to a great man. I would definatly suggest seeing it!.
February 18, 2011

Super Reviewer

My favorite sports film of all time!!! Jared Leto's performance as the legendary Steve Prefontaine is so dead on. This film is so well done, and so beautifully put together. This is VERY underrated as a sports film.
June 10, 2007

Super Reviewer

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