The Central Park Five (2012)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.


Movie Info

In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers were arrested and charged for brutally attacking and raping a white female jogger in Central Park. News media swarmed the case, calling it "the crime of the century." But the truth about what really happened didn't become clear until after the five had spent years in prison for a crime they didn't commit. With THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE, this story of injustice finally gets the telling it deserves. Based on Sarah Burns' best-selling book and co-directed by her … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Special Interest
Directed By: ,
Written By: David McMahon, Ken Burns, Sarah Burns
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 23, 2013
Box Office: $0.3M
Runtime:
IFC Films - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Central Park Five

All Critics (69) | Top Critics (29)

It's a vivid and gripping documentary (although, at two hours, somewhat longer than it needs to be), a grave indictment of a city and a system at the breaking point.

Full Review… | April 17, 2013
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Expect your blood pressure to rise during The Central Park Five.

Full Review… | December 24, 2012
Toronto Star
Top Critic

The doc is rife with smart or wrenching or shameful moments. The fresh interviews with the accused, now men, are invaluable.

Full Review… | December 21, 2012
Denver Post
Top Critic

As grim a portrait of the criminal justice system as can be imagined.

Full Review… | December 14, 2012
Detroit News
Top Critic

How could this second crime have occurred? The film asks that question but only partly answers it, and in the process it raises an even more troubling one.

Full Review… | December 14, 2012
Washington Post
Top Critic

"The Central Park Five" is a sobering indictment of racism and vigilante justice, yet it is constrained by a PBS-style deference to the very system it critiques.

Full Review… | December 13, 2012
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Central Park Five

As an in depth look into the heinous behavior of the New York City police department at the time of the case of the Central Park Five, this film digs deep into the motivations for these horrible choices to coerce, and the repercussions for five teenaged boys. Any film about false imprisonment is a tear jerker and fills you with compassion and anger. The film is quick to point out that the prison system incarcerates those they see as doing wrong, but does not remember them, or console them, for their false convictions, instead letting them go and shrugging as if to say "Oops." Ken Burns is always insightful and happy to show the cultural and ethno-political leanings of every event he covers. In this way we get the feel for the time period, the racial tensions between the police and racial minorities, and the fervor and rioting that took place. Still, it was a huge case that took the nation by storm, but once they were exonerated, no one cared, and that's what really makes this documentary stand out. Not only does this tell a story, but shows that no one cared about the ending.

FrizzDrop
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

½

The story of the five teenagers who were picked up in Central Park, charged with rape, and convicted based on suspect confessions, then freed after serving years in jail when DNA evidence identified the real rapist. A frightening reminder that whenever there's a horrible crime, society demands that someone must pay, and you don't want to be the one in the wrong place at the wrong time. NEVER TALK TO THE POLICE DURING AN INVESTIGATION WITHOUT A LAWYER PRESENT.

366weirdmovies
Greg S

Super Reviewer

"The Central Park Five" is a heartbreaking and powerful documentary about five teenagers, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Kharey Wise and Yusef Salaam who were falsely convicted in the rape and assault of Trisha Meili in Central Park on April 19, 1989. As District Attorney Robert Morgenthau puts it, if only they had known then what they later knew when the youths were exonerated. But here is the rub. The correct evidence was there, if only they had wanted to look for it. Instead, there was a rush to judgment by the police in coercing their confessions and later in the press, which the documentary painstakingly details with a thoroughly credible timeline of events. Later, you can see how their lives were adversely affected, as Richardson's sister points out that they are as much victims as Meili.

Whereas it is safe to say that New York City has changed dramatically over the decades, it is not quite as "The Central Park Five" alleges, barely glancing over the changes in the police department, along with perceptions that go beyond just those concerning race. For example, Meili felt comfortable enough to jog in the park after dark, as Central Park has always been less a sacred space as Koch testifies(It's neat that he allows to be interviewed here, considering his past intemperate comments. It would have been nice to have gotten other officials on the record to see how some of them sleep at night.), than a commons for all of the city's people to enjoy, even as the documentary via the tabloids of the day would say otherwise.(Not to be facetious but there are two ways I can tell a neighborhood is safe: joggers and dog walkers.) By the way, the only thing stopping New York State getting the death penalty at the time was Mario Cuomo's courageous annual veto.

Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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