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Shadowboxer (2005)



Average Rating: 3.9/10
Reviews Counted: 56
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 46

With random characters and a preposterous plot, this bizarre thriller might leave you with your mouth hanging open in disbelief.


Average Rating: 3.8/10
Critic Reviews: 23
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 20

With random characters and a preposterous plot, this bizarre thriller might leave you with your mouth hanging open in disbelief.



liked it
Average Rating: 2.9/5
User Ratings: 64,973

My Rating

Movie Info

A late-career change of heart leads to a dangerous life on the run for two seasoned assassins whose complex relationship masks a dark past in director Lee Daniels' pulpy film noir. When Mickey (Cuba Gooding Jr.) was just a child, his abusive father savagely murdered the young boy's mother shortly before being gunned down by Rose (Helen Mirren), Mickey's stepmother. Twenty years later, Mickey and Rose are not only working together as hired killers, but they have grown to become lovers as well.


Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense

Nov 7, 2006


Freestyle Releasing - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (60) | Top Critics (24) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (46) | DVD (7)

Thumbs down to a movie of such vile and violent temper.

August 25, 2006 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gosh, it's almost too bad/good to be true.

August 25, 2006 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The one thing I'll say about Shadowboxer is that it's never boring. Of course, I could also say that about stepping on crushed glass.

August 7, 2006 Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It ... has an insistently fussy and grandiose production design that mistakes lavish textures, brilliant colors and exotic backdrops for story atmosphere and style.

August 4, 2006 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It tells a story that would fit perfectly in a standard Hollywood action thriller, but it tells it in the grammar and syntax of an art film. The two sensibilities make no sense together.

August 3, 2006 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Arresting performances by Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jr. are squandered on a moody thriller that has way too much mood and not nearly enough thrills.

August 3, 2006
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Aaron Spelling may be slapping his forehead, but a few cemetary plots over, 1950's melodrama king Douglas Sirk is smiling.

February 1, 2009 Full Review Source: I.E. Weekly
I.E. Weekly

The raw materials for a gutsy, gritty, fearless, fascinating thriller are here, but they amount to some intriguing individual parts and not a satisfying, cohesive whole.

August 26, 2007 Full Review Source:

This cat-and-mouse caper's Swiss cheese plotline is riddled with too many holes to consider this flick as much more than a snuff film.

July 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Ban the N-Word
Ban the N-Word

Despite assembling a talented cast and crew, Daniels is stymied here by a script that takes itself far too seriously.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Mirren and Gooding are interesting -- and sexy -- to watch together. Once she leaves the film, the picture loses a bit of its uniqueness.

December 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Daily News
Los Angeles Daily News

That most wonderful of films, the kind that works on every level, but can't be easily pigeonholed.

December 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Killer Movie Reviews
Killer Movie Reviews

The script can't quite get a grasp on character depth, yet it also can't quite deliver the cheap thrills such a trashy tale might otherwise provide.

November 4, 2006 Full Review Source:

"Shadowboxer" is supposed to be concerned with how parents' lifestyles can be passed down to their children, but that is too simplistic here. The film, instead, is more a showcase of naked bodies, gory scenarios and over-the-top performances.

September 2, 2006 Full Review Source:

It's all so cliched in terms of personalities and full of such unbelievable situations that it's often downright laughable. And not in a good way.

August 25, 2006 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

There's no glee here, just a handful of glum characters stuck in an unending cycle of sex, violence, and heavy-handed preaching.

August 19, 2006 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Much of the movie is just too unintentionally goofy to take at face value

August 6, 2006 Full Review Source: New Times
New Times

The title [is] an apt metaphor for the movie, which ultimately bobs and weaves a lot but ends up all empty air.

August 5, 2006 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion

Daniels know his way around making the viewer uncomfortable, but there's a fine line between genuine, pants-tickling eroticism and 'I can't believe I'm watching this surrounded by strangers' soft-core porn.

August 4, 2006 Full Review Source:

The casting seems to be an attempt to manufacture interesting characters, instead of depending on the script to do that.

August 4, 2006 Full Review Source:

Should you go? Not in public. But with a group of like-minded friends and the DVD, there might be circumstances under which you'd find it hilarious.

August 4, 2006 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

I'd sooner sit through 32 hours of Congressional committee testimony about imported yarn than watch Shadowboxer again.

August 4, 2006 Full Review Source: Charlotte Observer
Charlotte Observer

Audience Reviews for Shadowboxer

Two hired assassins help raise their mark's daughter while being pursued by her sociopath boyfriend.
Lee Daniels's, the director behind Precious, debut is an attempt at a thriller, but it's in the guise of an art film with all of the pretension and none of the art. There are long sequences during which the actors emote and look vaguely troubled, and the stylized violence that is supposed to look cool, an imitation of Tarantino. Even the characters are reminiscent of Tarantino, and Daniels's addition is a unmentioned and unexplained mismatch of romantic couples. The 100-pound Joseph Gordon-Levitt is paired with the ... uh ... over-100-pound Mo'Nique, and the thirty-eight-year-old Cuba Gooding Jr is paired with sixty-one-year-old Helen Mirren. The latter match is explained by an odd step-Oedipal complex, but suffice it to say that I think these matches are Daniels's attempt at liberal multiculturalism, saying that love transcends looks, age, and race, but it all comes at the expense of verisimilitude.
I did enjoy the performances in parts, especially by Stephen Dorff as the psycho boyfriend, but overall, there isn't much that could redeem this film.
October 2, 2011
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Helen Mirren, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Ferlito

A mother and her stepson have a romantic relationship while working as contract killers, but soon they learn there is someone trying to hunt them down.
I actually don't know how to explain this movie. It was a bit disturbing. But the story was really interesting. Helen Mirren was great in this movie. I really liked Cuba Gooding Jr's performance. This whole movie was something you felt kinda wrong for watching but you can't help to, cause of the story, and you want to see where it goes. First movie I have ever watched with Vanessa Ferlito I believe. Thought she was great. It's definitely a movie worth seeing. The characters had some odd love interests that surprised me. Not so much in a good way. Kinda made me cringe, but not in disgust or anything, just uncomfortable. LOL. I watched this movie cause it has some of my favorite actors in it. Turned out to be a little bit more interesting then I thought it would be, and some things took me by surprise, but its a film I would possibly watch again.
December 4, 2009

Super Reviewer

This was certainly a film of odd pairings, Helen Mirran and Cuba Gooding Jr and then Joseph Gordon Levitt and Mo'Nique, but the strangest part of the film was the sexual content, which seemed to be just oddly placed here and there and didn't seem to fit in with the rest of the film.

Despite the quality of some of the Actors here, this was a film that never quite reached the excitement we were planning on.
January 9, 2009

Super Reviewer

Convoluted junk
December 12, 2008
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

    1. Rose: The only man a woman can count on is her son.
    – Submitted by Frances H (45 days ago)
    1. Dr. Don: Always an adventure with Rose.
    – Submitted by Frances H (45 days ago)
View all quotes (2)

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