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The Last Gladiators (2013)

tomatometer

80

Average Rating: 5.9/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.

audience

83

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 281

My Rating

Movie Info

Academy Award (R) Winning Director Alex Gibney examines the NHL's most feared enforcers while also exploring the career of Chris Nilan. (c) Official FB

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All Critics (11) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (1)

The opening sections of this film play like a greatest-hits clip collection, but when Gibney delves deeper into Nilan's personality, it's a magnetic portrait of a rinkside Raging Bull.

February 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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Gibney celebrates hockey's fisticuff traditions while also recognizing how such brutality ultimately takes its greatest toll on those who perpetrate it.

February 13, 2013 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
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Gibney deserves credit for making a hockey film that the uninitiated can watch with interest, and for focusing on an issue even some hockey fans can't make up their minds about.

February 1, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
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Pretty or not, the stories of dropped gloves and smashed faces shed some clarity on the game's violence ...

January 31, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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At his best, Gibney focuses on his subject and then explodes it outward. But with "The Last Gladiators," he's taken a rare misstep. There is undoubtedly a great story within the bruised history of NHL enforcers. Why, though, did he choose Chris Nilan's?

January 31, 2013 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In a way, this doc is Bully, grown up, and from the bully's perspective.

March 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Movies With Butter
Movies With Butter

Even if you're not a hockey fan, Nilan is a modest and insightful guy.

February 21, 2013 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Reflecting the sweep of aggression that swallowed the game throughout the 20th century, Gibney tackles his points smartly, laboring to communicate the thrill of combat and the shock of retirement.

February 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Blu-ray.com
Blu-ray.com

Gibney, always a master of the documentary interview, gives us another captivating talking head in Chris Nilan.

February 2, 2013 Full Review Source: Film School Rejects
Film School Rejects

It doesn't try to sell you on fighting in hockey, it just presents the environment, the personalities, and lets it all speak for itself...

February 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Makes room for tender moments of reflection from a guy who, against impossible odds, still managed some victories, the biggest of which may be that he's still standing.

January 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for The Last Gladiators

"The Last Gladiators" is a documentary that seeks to explore the careers and lives of various enforcers in the NHL while carefully walking the line between entertainment and expose. Of special interest here is Chris Nilan who played and fought 13 seasons for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins. While talking to plenty of his friends and family, the movie also interviews some of Nilan's fellow enforcers like Marty McSorley and the late Bob Probert. But the documentary should have also taken the time to talk to Mike Milbury who usually loves the sound of his own voice and could have provided perspective from three different angles.

That speaks to the documentary's central flaw, in that in solely following Nilan around, it is not able to fully explore whether or not his post-career life is typical of former NHL enforcers, not allowing for any new insights in the bargain.(Strangely enough the documentary fails to bring up concussions at all.) For example, sad as it sounds, many retired people sit around all day watching television. And many athletes not named Michael Strahan have a hard time adjusting to regular life after retiring from being a professional athlete. With Nilan, you have a chicken and egg debate in whether he was aggressive to start out or did hockey make him even more so? In any case, I do not think he would have been better off without hockey, as it is nearly impossible to say what his alternate life would have been like.
April 28, 2014
Harlequin68
Walter M.

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