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What Doesn't Kill You (2008)


Average Rating: 6/10
Reviews Counted: 35
Fresh: 23
Rotten: 12

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 6.4/10
Reviews Counted: 14
Fresh: 12
Rotten: 2

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 7,104


Movie Info

Inspired by his own tough childhood on the unforgiving streets of South Boston, director/co-screenwriter (along with Paul T. Murray and Donnie Wahlberg) Brian Goodman's tough-talking crime drama follows the journey of two childhood friends as they attempt to sever their powerful underworld ties. Ever since they were just young kids, Brian (Mark Ruffalo) and Paulie (Ethan Hawke) have always watched out for one another. From the petty crimes and misdemeanors of childhood to more serious criminal … More

R (for language, drug use, some violence and brief sexuality)
Directed By:
Written By:
Brian Goodman , Donnie Wahlberg , Paul T. Murray
In Theaters:
Apr 28, 2009
Yari Film Group - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for What Doesn't Kill You

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (23) | Rotten (12) | DVD (1)

The overfamiliarity of What Doesn't Kill You is redeemed by a full-scale performance from Mark Ruffalo.

Full Review… | December 19, 2008
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic

Goodman doesn't allow even a hint of postmodernism or self-consciousness to creep into What Doesn't Kill You, and though the movie's various heists and shootouts are gripping, they aren't especially kinetic or stylish.

Full Review… | December 19, 2008
AV Club
Top Critic

I thought that Brian Goodman managed to put us in this hardscrabble South Boston neighborhood.

Full Review… | December 15, 2008
At the Movies
Top Critic

Nothing really going on here

Full Review… | December 15, 2008
At the Movies
Top Critic

It feels, if not like real life, at least like a movie you haven't seen before.

Full Review… | December 12, 2008
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

This is a rare case of a movie that improves dramatically as it goes along.

Full Review… | December 12, 2008
New York Post
Top Critic

The film won't win any prizes for originality, but it's elevated by two hugely engaging performances from Ruffalo and Hawke. Rubbish title, though.

Full Review… | September 1, 2013
Flix Capacitor

For a true-crime story, there's surprisingly little dramatic arc.

Full Review… | June 7, 2009
Movie Metropolis

Kill You, while stewing in the juices of unapologetic formula, is a more of a direct injection of stark criminal behavior punctuated by exhilarating performances and a soulful dedication to the moody rhythms of despair.

Full Review… | April 21, 2009

A mostly gripping, well-acted and surprisingly engrossing crime drama. Mark Ruffalo delivers an Oscar worthy performance that's both sensitive and surprisingly moving.

Full Review… | January 31, 2009
NYC Movie Guru

The film is caught in the tension between wanting to provide depth of social implication and gunplay action but the symbiosis doesn't multiply the effect.

Full Review… | January 24, 2009
Cinema Signals

Been there, seen that-many times-is the best one can say for this wholly predictable autobiographical account of a life in crime.

Full Review… | December 17, 2008
Film Journal International

...undoubtedly benefits from Ruffalo's electrifying turn as Brian...

Full Review… | December 14, 2008
Reel Film Reviews

The film is well done, gritty and raw, clearly showing the desperation in a city where opportunities are limited and crime is just another job. Ethan Hawke is a pretty risky choice as he just screams supermodel, not gangster, but after a bit of drooling,

Full Review… | December 13, 2008

I guess I should just be happy it didn't end up worse and hope these guys don't come hurt me for saying all this.

Full Review… | December 12, 2008
Can Magazine

It's admirable that Brian Goodman came back from life on the streets, two jail terms and a bad drug habit to make a movie, but considering its real life genesis the movie feels awfully warmed over

Full Review… | December 12, 2008
Reeling Reviews

Though hardly a failure, What Doesn't Kill You is in the final measure definitely not what it could have been.

Full Review… | December 11, 2008

Simply too familiar and ponderous to succeed in a genre with movies as riveting as The Departed.

Full Review… | December 11, 2008

Audience Reviews for What Doesn't Kill You


Interesting, and worth while, crime drama about small time thieves in Boston. This is well made, and the acting is very good. A little slow at times, but the overall story is decent. Bottom line: the moral of this story is - crime does not pay.

Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke, Amanda Peet, Will Lyman, Brian Goodman, Donnie Wahlberg, Angela Featherstone, Edward Lynch, Bates Wilder

Director: Brian Goodman

Summary: Partners in crime Paulie (Ethan Hawke) and Brian (Mark Ruffalo) find themselves at odds after years of pulling dangerous jobs, surviving turf wars and evading a determined detective (Donnie Wahlberg) in this gritty crime drama set in South Boston. The childhood buddies have gone through the wringer together, but when Brian's relationship with his wife (Amanda Peet) begins to fall apart, their loyal friendship is tested.

My Thoughts: "It's a true story that is a bit of a gangster film, but more of a film based on friendship, and a father trying to make the right choices for his family. I really enjoyed Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke together on screen. They were so good together. Very believable as long time besties. I also enjoyed Amanda Peet in this as well. Her screen time with Mark Ruffalo was very emotional and raw. She gave a great performance. It's not a great crime story, but the character's and the performances make up were the story lacks. A good watch on a slow moving night."


Super Reviewer

What doesn't Kill is the type of film that has been done many times before, and therefore not that original. However, I found the film to be quite entertaining. I always like films like this, even if What Doesn't Kill you is not that original, it's still pretty good. The reason that the film succeeds in my book is because of the superb acting
by Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawk. Both are great actors and elevate the somwhat overused story to a watchable film. What Doesn't Kill You is based on the life of first time director Brian Goodman's life of crime, and his struggle to go straight. Even though we've seen this type of film before, it feels totally different and at times original. Obviously the film is not for everyone and you may be disappointed. The fact that it's based on a true story is what seperates this from other films dealing with same subject matter. Though the script lacks originality and good structure, and the film relies almost on cliches, the cast involved makes you forget those flaws. I was so engaged by all the actors that I forgot about it's flaws. What Doesn't Kill You may rely on overused material, but it's still a good story nonetheless. I don't understand why this film has gotten so many bad reviews, It definitely isn't the worst film that I've seen. However, this film can only appeal to a certain type of audience. Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawk make this film better than it really is. A terrific little film, and one that doesn't deserve all the flack that it received. Theres so many films out there that use the same style of plot, and some of them get Critical acclaim (Avatar copied Dances With Wolves and Fern Gulley) People could have said that Avatar was overusing cliches, but no. What Doesn't Kill You is a good film and its far better than what most people have said about it.

Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

The sad thing about this movie is the actors involved are extremely talented and do their jobs well. Ruffalo, Hawke, and Amanda Peet work damn hard at trying to make this bile believable. Why the hell does every ex-gangster who knows how Microsoft Word works get either a book or a movie made out of their life? We get it, you had a rough childhood which led to a life of crime and as much as working is "standing in mud" those pesky balls of yours don't want to have to settle down. It's like if Henry Hill got to make Goodfellas. This guy thinks he should be honored for not going around and stealing shit that doesn't belong to him....awesome. Why does this movie keep getting made? And why do I have to watch all these scenes that look like the worst takes just slapped together. I wonder if independent now means that they didn't load a tripod onto the truck. Another example of how the Wahlberg Brothers are destroying entertainment. If it isn't a half hour watching how rich Mark is, now Donnie is writing screenplays. And he got Ruffalo and Hawke! FUCK OFF!

Tim Sigur

Super Reviewer

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