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Stop-Loss (2008)


Average Rating: 6.3/10
Reviews Counted: 139
Fresh: 90
Rotten: 49

Critics Consensus: Stop-Loss is sincere and complex, and features strong performances, even if it tries to cover too much ground.

Average Rating: 6.2/10
Reviews Counted: 38
Fresh: 24
Rotten: 14

Critics Consensus: Stop-Loss is sincere and complex, and features strong performances, even if it tries to cover too much ground.


Average Rating: 2.5/5
User Ratings: 748,095


Movie Info

After serving his tour of duty in Iraq, a young American soldier who is ordered to return to the front lines as part of the military's controversial stop-loss policy opts instead to go AWOL in a thought-provoking military drama directed by Kimberly Peirce. Sgt. Brandon King (Ryan Philippe) is a decorated Iraq War veteran who once served his country with pride. After his tour of duty comes to an end, King returns to his Texas hometown and attempts to pick up where he once left off with a little … More

R (for graphic violence and pervasive language)
Directed By:
Written By:
Kimberly Peirce , Mark Richard
In Theaters:
Jul 8, 2008
Box Office:
Paramount Pictures - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Stop-Loss

All Critics (139) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (90) | Rotten (49) | DVD (5)

It's the film equivalent of a weary shrug - capturing the national mood at a moment when we'd all prefer some mood enhancers.

Full Review… | April 25, 2008
Time Out
Top Critic

Stop-Loss is not a great movie, but it's forceful, effective, and alive, with the raw, mixed-up emotions produced by an endless war -- a time when the patriotism of military families is in danger of being exploited beyond endurance.

Full Review… | March 31, 2008
New Yorker
Top Critic

The power of Stop-Loss -- and this is no dumb joke -- is that it shows its hero between Iraq and a hard place.

Full Review… | March 31, 2008
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

[A] very worthy film.

March 31, 2008
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

Swamped by clichés, continuity problems, stock characters and very good intentions.

Full Review… | March 28, 2008
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

Stop-Loss can't quite decide whether to focus on making a powerful statement on a controversial and unfamiliar military policy or on a more predictable drama about the traumatic effect of war on young people's lives.

Full Review… | March 28, 2008
USA Today
Top Critic

Mature, violent war drama tackles heavy issues.

Full Review… | December 17, 2010
Common Sense Media

Feverish yet bizarrely apolitical, the movie tries to have it both ways and fumbles its outraged and reconciliatory impulses equally

Full Review… | August 27, 2009

Peirce's sincerity and smarts cannot quite defuse the overall didactic nature of the piece.

Full Review… | March 29, 2009

Following the harrowing and superbly made opening sequences of hand to hand combat in Iraq, we can feel the frustrations and the anger through the film, and we sympathise. But the film has a confused message ...

Full Review… | August 4, 2008
Urban Cinefile

Stop-Loss is a tough film to watch and one that raises issues of concern that travel far beyond the war-torn regions. But whether its message is accurately targeted is for the viewer to decide

Full Review… | August 4, 2008
Urban Cinefile

...once it makes its point, it tends to pile on, never making an entirely convincing drama nor an entirely convincing argument.

Full Review… | July 2, 2008
Movie Metropolis

The film gets pretty heavy handed in the last third and is weighed down by an inadequate performance.

Full Review… | June 18, 2008
Sin Magazine

The reason "Stop Loss" works, unlike its 2007 predecessors, is that it cares more about its characters than it does about making a political point.

June 11, 2008
The Trend

[Peirce's] film looks at the fallout of war in lives lost and lives ruined, pain that has a trickle-up effect on our nation's image of itself.

Full Review… | June 5, 2008
Atlantic City Weekly

It strokes every personal ideal, whatever it is, rather than aligning itself with its characters and letting the conclusions arise out of who they are.

Full Review… | June 3, 2008
Paste Magazine

Though it is very message oriented and a little sloppy at times, I found the subject to be really interesting and the opening war scene will blow you away.

Full Review… | May 24, 2008

The war in Iraq has itself become the realization of the shameful "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy (it's not just gays and lesbians that are being told to look the other way). Stop-Loss reveals just one ugly aspect of such insidiousness.

Full Review… | May 22, 2008
Windy City Times

An honest vocalization of the inchoate discomfort so many Americans on either side of the political divide are feeling.

May 15, 2008
Film Experience

But whatever you think about the Iraq war and the people who are fighting in it, you'll be shaken up and moved by Stop-Loss.

Full Review… | May 1, 2008

Distancing Stop-Loss from other Iraq films by highlighting an American military tactic that has been little talked about, Peirce has crafted a credible but hardly outstanding effort that may disappoint those expecting another Boys Don't Cry.

Full Review… | April 25, 2008

Stop Loss takes some time out from the argument over the validity of the war to ask a question closer to home - whether the emotional battlefield America subjects its young soldiers to is actually worth it.

Full Review… | April 25, 2008

Strong performances from the young cast make a compelling case that the US govt is failing its soldiers, but the film's a little too much of a blunt instrument.

Full Review… | April 25, 2008
Empire Magazine

Kimberly Peirce's long-awaited follow-up to Boys Don't Cry is a thought-provoking, emotionally engaging drama that packs a surprisingly powerful punch.

Full Review… | April 24, 2008

Telling antiwar film as seen through the eyes of those patriotic volunteers who fought in Iraq and are now disillusioned.

Full Review… | April 17, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Stop-Loss

A solider, whose tour of duty in Iraq is over, is victim to a government policy that denies him his release.
The central dramatic conflict about whether this solider should return to Iraq is a compelling and complex issue, and director Kimberly Pierce treats it with the gravity it deserves, presenting sides that would appeal to most left-leaning peacenics and most veterans of the war. I also think the PTSD was presented well with King being functional most of the time until situations bring back the worst of his time there.
However, Channing Tatum is awful, clearly trying too hard to be a "serious dramatic actor." The film also diverts from the principle conflict, as King visits the family of a dead solider and another soldier in the hospital; it seems like these scenes relate more to Pierce's politically motivated desire to capture all sides of the conflict rather than tell the story. Finally, the beginning of the film is structured like a bad episode of The Real World, as though Pierce realized she was working for MTV and needed to buoy her Gen X kudos.
Overall, this is a good, important story even if the filmmaking isn't all it can be.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Stop Loss is one incredible drama film. With an incredible cast at hand, director Kimberly Peirce tells the story of an Iraq war veteran which because of the Stop Loss policy of the U.S Military, is forced to stay in the military against his will. Stop Loss is a brilliant film that exposes the ludicrous Stop Loss policy. Starring Ryan Phillipe, in what I consider the best performance of his career, Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers a great performance as well. Stop Loss is a well paced drama film with an important story. Of all the films that Ryan Phillippe has done, none has come close to Stop Loss. This is a powerful film that is superbly well done. Kimberly Peirce follows up her debut feature film, Boys Don't Cry with this intense war drama. The film at times struggles with its material, but it gets the point across and the film, I think is significant as a picture that embodies the nature of service men everywhere. Watching this film, you realize what these men go through and what they sacrifice in the process and it makes you appreciate what they do that much more. If you enjoy a good drama/war film, then Stop Loss is the film for you. Stop Loss manages to be a terrific, emotional journey for one soldier who is conflicted with doing the right thing. A phenomenal, and different war film. I think Stop Loss delivers a refreshing dramatic experience while using the Iraq War as backdrop for its story. A very underrated film, and one that shouldn't be missed.

Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer


I hope that there's more to "Stop Loss" than what's depicted in this movie. It's disturbing that one is left helpless and with no option when On returning home after serving for about 5 years in Iraq, the protagonist doesn't intend to go back. He's taken aback when he's told that, being stop-lossed, he'll have to leave for Iraq again soon. He's offered no other favorable option. He's not willing to accept this, and goes AWOL to make efforts to get out of this situation.

A person volunteers to serve for his nation, does his duty for several years loyally and returns. What's wrong if he doesn't wish to go back? How fair is it to make one so helpless? I hope that the "stop loss" provides reasonable options, and doesn't just enforce anyone who's unwilling to go.

familiar stranger

Super Reviewer


It's been a long time since I've seen an MTV Film, and this one was better than most that I remember. It was a little too glossy and angsty to take seriously in some places, but overall I thought it was a sensitive and gripping story about friendship and trauma. In a way it writes itself into a corner: neither potential ending would be completely satisfying. Unfortunately, that's the reality of stop-loss: the stats at the end of the film show that 15% of troops (through the end of its production) were forced back to the front. This is a sad and important story, regardless of whether it's a great film or not, and if you don't want to watch this movie, fair enough, but promise you'll read a book about this policy, ok?

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

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