The Last Gladiators (2013) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Last Gladiators (2013)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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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 FBmore
Rating: R (for language)
Genre: Documentary, Sports & Fitness, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Jim Podhoretz, Larry Weitzman
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 12, 2013
Phase 4 Films - Official Site


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News & Interviews for The Last Gladiators

Critic Reviews for The Last Gladiators

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (5)

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.

Full Review… | February 15, 2013
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Gibney celebrates hockey's fisticuff traditions while also recognizing how such brutality ultimately takes its greatest toll on those who perpetrate it.

Full Review… | February 13, 2013
Village Voice
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | February 1, 2013
New York Post
Top Critic

Pretty or not, the stories of dropped gloves and smashed faces shed some clarity on the game's violence ...

Full Review… | January 31, 2013
New York Times
Top Critic

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?

Full Review… | January 31, 2013
New York Daily News
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | March 15, 2013
Movies With Butter

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.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer


Director Alex Gibney approaches his documentary about the brutish enforcers in the NHL with the same kind of enthusiasm he approaches all of his films with. However, there doesn't seem to be enough substance here to make the film as powerful as some of his others. There are some really good moments here, especially with the primary character, Chris Nilan, and with the wealth of footage that Gibney has at his disposal, the film moves along pretty well. It's only in the last 30 minutes of the film where you begin to feel the pace begin to drag. I'm sure fans of the NHL will find more to enjoy about this film than I did.

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