Shadowboxer - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Shadowboxer Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 2, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
August 7, 2009
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.
Super Reviewer
½ September 20, 2006
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.
Super Reviewer
August 3, 2007
Convoluted junk
Super Reviewer
May 20, 2008
If you would like to watch Cuba Gooding Jr. have sex with 60 year old Helen Mirren MANY TIMES then watch this movie.

The unfortunate thing about this movie is that the story line is really really good. There's mystery, suspense, action, crime, and.... many interracial, incestuous, "mature" sex scenes between Gooding and Mirren. You see nothing more than Cuba's butt, but the vivid act itself is awkward and embarassing.

Cuba and Mirren also are very unconvincing as contract killers. However, the remaining cast which include Stephen Dorff and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, did exceptionally well.

Watch if your curious, but it's unfortunate to see a good story ruined by pointless sex scenes. There are plenty of more intelligent ways of conveying love in a relationship between a mother and her's just sick.....
Super Reviewer
½ March 21, 2008
A very interesting film. A little disturbing.

If it was anyone other then Helen Mirren as the lead, it might not have worked.
Super Reviewer
February 3, 2007
What a different type of film. Gooding isnt that great and is very strange
Super Reviewer
September 3, 2007
Shadowboxer seems to confuse weird and bizarre with edgy originality. So just to mix it up we have a terminally ill aging British Assassin (Helen Mirren) bumping uglies with a younger, blacker hit man whom she raised (Gooding Jr.). Somehwhere in between we also have Dorff's bad guy who shoves pool cues up people's behinds and has a pet Zebra. Gordon-Levitt also shows up as the worlds youngest doctor who happens to be in a relationship with Mo'Nique. Had the film tried a less is more approach it could have been more succesful. Hard to place within a genre (never a bad thing) the film feels uneasy but also interests without creating too many mysteries. Mirren, Gooding Jr., in fact everyone is great in their roles with Dorff relishing every bit of weird twisted craziness is shoved his way. The two leads make a surprisingly believable couple and the love scenes come off well, although Jr's striptease is a bit cringey. If you enjoy hitman movies then you'll deffinately find something new here.
Super Reviewer
August 9, 2007
This movie is a little different, but, pretty good.
Super Reviewer
April 21, 2007
This film is, as they say, close but no cigar.
Super Reviewer
½ June 20, 2007
[font=Century Gothic]In "Shadowboxer", Clay(Stephen Dorff), violent, psychotic and sadistic even by other gangsters' standards, hires Mikey(Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and Rose(Helen Mirren) to kill his wife, Vicki(Vanessa Ferlito), who he suspects of being unfaithful.(Mikey and Rose have a complex relationship that is just shy of incest. Rose took Mikey in when he was seven, and eventually they became lovers. Now, Rose is dying.) As Rose is about to kill her, she hesitates when a very pregnant Vicki breaks her water and goes into labor...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]If you can get beyond the plot and some of the more outre elements(and normally I do have a huge problem with movies where killers are pictured as being cuddly but here it makes sense since Rose is dying and starting to reexamine her life), then "Shadowboxer" is a surprisingly intelligent movie with strong performances from Helen Mirren and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Stephen Dorff does certainly enjoy playing the villain. But regrettably the movie has a less than favorable view of African-American women. In the end, the film is about families, especially fathers and how they can pass on their violent ways to their children. Forget video games. Forget movies. This is how children learn about violence.[/font]
Super Reviewer
February 21, 2010
A curiosity of a film by Lee Daniels sandwiched between producing MONSTERS BALL four years earlier and directing PRECIOUS four years later. Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jr play mismatched stepmum & stepson lovers and contract killers, Mo'Nique and Joseph Gorden-Levitt play mis-matched lovers and squabblers, and Macy Gray plays being mighty cross when her best friend vanishes. You''ll either really enjoy this or think its a pile of tosh.
Super Reviewer
May 19, 2007
Cuba Gooding Jr. and Helen Mirren as a pair of romantically involved contract killers sounds like a high concept if ever there was one, but, stunt casting aside, the story itself is nothing spectacularly original. It helps to know as little as possible about this film since the plot trajectory itself is quite easy to work out; too much synopsis would reveal some of the twists (and by the way, don't even think about watching the trailer first as it's far too heavy on revelations). Suffice it to say that it's, surprisingly, the casting itself that elevates this assassin flick out of the ordinary. Mirren is reliably superb as ever, even with a dodgy accent, and in addition there's good value in Dorff's charismatic baddie, a scene-stealing Mo'Nique, a bizarre but enjoyable bit from Macy Gray and even another excellent role for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Acting aside, there's a lot of interesting and/or disturbing stuff that you'd never find in a mainstream Hollywood product: realistic sex scenes (an aborted sex scene, squelchy sex noises), death by pool cue and a cross-dressing Gooding Jr. are just some of the unexpected developments. Worth a rental, certainly.
Super Reviewer
November 30, 2006
Clumsy, gaudy, but never boring.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
April 21, 2010
Omg...what the hell did I just watch? This movie is worthless and clearly without a doubt sucks. Not one of Lee Daniels best. If I were Daniels I'd be embarressed if given the oppertunity to direct this harmful, toxic waste of a picture.
Super Reviewer
½ October 4, 2008
Soooo bad. Though Cuba Gooding Jr did make for a convincing badass, the sex was just gratuitous, it was just. All. Bad. Even WITH Joseph Gordon-Levitt in it!
Super Reviewer
½ March 8, 2009
Strange bedfellows aside, the story has so many bizarre elements it's distracting. Certainly a unique movie, just in all the wrong ways.
Super Reviewer
½ November 5, 2007
Good film, great acting.
Super Reviewer
½ July 25, 2007
This was so good, I watched it twice in the same day.
I was very impressed with Gooding, Gordon-Levitt and Dorff since their characters played wildly significant roles, and had great scenes to play out.
An awkward sex scene featuring Gooding and Mirren was almost difficult to watch.
The final standoff was well-resolved, finally showing the true nature of Gooding's character.
Super Reviewer
June 26, 2007
Set to a superb orchestral score, Shadowboxer delivers its message on 'violence-in-our-genes' with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but its unusual tendency to dig into its character's bizarre psychology sets it apart from the other countless thrillers with a similar premise. Also, Helen Mirren once again continues in her delivery of a string of excellent performances.
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