Sleuth Reviews

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Bob Mondello
NPR.org
October 18, 2008
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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
December 14, 2007
Director Kenneth Branagh has mercifully pared the action down to 88 minutes (the first movie dragged on for 138), but the final act... still seems to go on forever.
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch
December 1, 2007
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Trevor Johnston
Time Out
November 21, 2007
Kenneth Branagh's direction, its self-consciously skewed angles and surveillance-cam cutaways highlighting his weakness for the misplaced flourish, is more of a hindrance than a help.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/6
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Sean Means
Film.com
November 16, 2007
Director Kenneth Branagh clearly is having fun navigating Tim Harvey's slick set design, but eventually the characters' deadly competitiveness becomes tedious.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
November 9, 2007
It doesnt work, and the reasons why are no mystery, no mystery at all.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Stanley Kauffmann
The New Republic
November 7, 2007
This film wants only to entertain, and other talents have gathered with Pinter to help.
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Tom Long
Detroit News
November 2, 2007
It sounds so promising. It plays so disappointing.
Full Review | Original Score: C-
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Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
November 2, 2007
We're left with two suitably hammy performances by Caine and Law, who do not forget they are actors playing actors, and a production design that must have kept the lighting people doing some ingenious plotting of their own.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
November 2, 2007
Just terrible.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
November 1, 2007
This would have been a memorable night at the theater. Too bad they filmed it.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
October 26, 2007
Closed-circuit cameras and electronic gadgets are so much in abundance, bathed in the coldest of blue lights, it's as if Branagh chose to film his Sleuth in a Best Buy warehouse.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
October 26, 2007
Those who say they wouldn't mind watching Michael Caine and Jude Law recite the phone book may well have their patience tested by Sleuth.
Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
October 26, 2007
This might have been OK for cable, but as a night out at the movies, it feels like a bit of a cheat.
| Original Score: 2/4
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Randy Cordova
Arizona Republic
October 25, 2007
A grand exercise in watching two marvelous actors rip into some crackling dialogue. It's the thespian equivalent of jousting, and it's fascinating to watch.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
October 25, 2007
Little more than a sleek, stylish stunt.
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Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle
October 19, 2007
Shaffer, who adapted the 1972 version himself, surely would be less than thrilled by the post-modern, minimalist interpretation given to his best-known work, and understandably so.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
October 19, 2007
Sleuth gradually becomes soulless and no fun, and what's the point of that?
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
October 19, 2007
In Sleuth what he [Kenneth Branagh] celebrates is perplexing, ominous, insinuating material in the hands of two skilled actors.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Scott Tobias
AV Club
October 18, 2007
Sleuth finds Branagh and Pinter at their absolute worst.
Full Review | Original Score: D+
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
October 18, 2007
Branagh, whose screen career with Shakespeare began on a high note with Henry V and has gone steadily downhill since, does a nice job keeping a stagebound piece relatively cinematic without resorting to the usual opening-up techniques.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
October 16, 2007
If you consider what the exalted quartet of Branagh, Pinter, Caine and Law might have done with the project, and what they did to it, Sleuth has to be the worst prestige movie of the year.
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Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
October 15, 2007
Tedious, pretentious, and ludicrous.
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
October 12, 2007
Kenneth Branagh is not a director with a light touch, or an aversion to self-importance, and the movie's visuals are too painfully obvious.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Kyle Smith
New York Post
October 12, 2007
Just when things should be getting exciting and complex, they become repetitive and predictable. Subtext becomes hint becomes statement becomes declaration. For once, Pinter is a little too easy to understand.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Elizabeth Weitzman
New York Daily News
October 12, 2007
So what's it all about? Got me.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Carina Chocano
Los Angeles Times
October 12, 2007
Language this lethal has all but disappeared from the movies, and it's an unmitigated pleasure to observe Caine and Law attack it with such ferocity. Sleuth is nasty fun.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
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Manohla Dargis
New York Times
October 12, 2007
In the remake of Sleuth, what was once insignificant is now insufferable.
| Original Score: 1/5
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
October 11, 2007
Caine and Law are in fine form bantering cleverly in this entertaining cat-and-mouse game, thanks to the inspired dialogue of Harold Pinter.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
October 11, 2007
It has a certain edge and daring, or more to the point it pretends to. That goes some distance toward concealing that Sleuth is a horrible mismatch of writer and material.
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
October 11, 2007
It's an interesting failure -- a film that works more successfully as a study of technique and writing than as a motion picture.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Ella Taylor
L.A. Weekly
October 11, 2007
Leaving aside two brilliant 1963 film adaptations of [Pinter's] best work, The Caretaker and The Servant, the terse opacity of the dialogue that served his early plays so astringently has never translated well onto the big screen.
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Jan Stuart
Newsday
October 11, 2007
Purely as an exercise in stylistic face-lifting, Sleuth is fascinating.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
October 10, 2007
It's like Deathtrap crossed with Cribs as staged by Stanley Kubrick.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
October 8, 2007
I think the movie works best if you know the original and have a taste for goofy revisionism -- say, Hamlet as a giant Hawaiian luau with the final duel on surfboards, or Paul Anka doing a finger-snapping "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
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Globe and Mail
September 6, 2007
A wickedly entertaining four-man tour de force, Sleuth transforms Anthony Shaffer's Tony-winning, rather than rehashing the fine 1972 movie version.
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Robert Koehler
Variety
August 31, 2007
This is a radically different Sleuth, one that feels at times like Pinter self-parody.
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Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out
July 21, 2007
The real culprit, dear Watson, is playwright Harold Pinter, contracted here for a baroque rewrite of Shaffer's original dialogue. The result. Is one. Of unbearable artifice. Throughout. The entire film. Some puzzles just give you a headache.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/6