Battle in Seattle

Critics Consensus

Well intentioned and passionate, this docu-drama about the 1999 WTO protests is heavier on politics than character development.



Total Count: 62


Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,688
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Movie Info

Actor-turned-filmmaker Stuart Townsend makes his screenwriting and directorial debut with this ensemble film set during the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle and presenting the riots that swept through the streets during the five-day conference from the perspectives of police, protestors, and city officials. A typically laid-back Northwestern city, Seattle would erupt into violence when, for five days in 1999, tens of thousands of protestors flooded the streets to voice their disapproval of the high-profile World Trade Organization conference. Among that sea of protestors are Django (André Benjamin), Sam (Jennifer Carpenter), Jay (Martin Henderson), and Lou (Michelle Rodriguez) -- each convinced that the stakes go beyond politics and equally determined to make a difference by ensuring that their voice of dissent is heard by the masses. At first the demonstration is peaceful, but in an instant the streets explode and the WTO is paralyzed. As a full-scale riot commences and a state of emergency is declared, the residents of Seattle are caught in the crossfire between protestors and police. With beleaguered mayor Jim Tobin (Ray Liotta) scrambling to diffuse tensions and riot cop Dale Anderson (Woody Harrelson) racing to protect his pregnant wife, Ella (Charlize Theron), everyone involved is forced to make difficult decisions that are sure to change their lives forever. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi


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Critic Reviews for Battle in Seattle

All Critics (62) | Top Critics (24) | Fresh (35) | Rotten (27)

  • Approaching its subject with a neat idealism and packaging its political fervor in the most facile of forms, the film boasts a cast loaded with Hollywoods both new and old and wraps its message up with eye-rolling naivete.

    Aug 8, 2009 | Full Review…
  • It sheds much needed light on a mostly forgotten event in our country's history.

    Nov 6, 2008 | Full Review…
  • What I think the movie failed to do was the thing it had to do most, which was explain what is the WTO and why in Stuart Townshend's opinion, is it bad.

    Nov 6, 2008
  • If current events hold, Battle in Seattle could look like prophecy as well as history.

    Oct 17, 2008 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • There is a monster in Battle in Seattle, but it never speaks and remains mysterious.

    Oct 17, 2008 | Rating: 2/4
  • Actor-turned writer-director Stuart Townsend makes great use of the documentary footage of the '99 Seattle WTO riots. And he gets across his talking points about this shadowy outfit, too. It's a shame his script and all his actor friends get in the way.

    Oct 16, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Battle in Seattle

  • Jan 31, 2011
    A retellling of events from seattle in 1999, when demonstrators, came down upon the world trade organisation and there standing on world trade. the peacefull protests took a turn for the worst, and brutal acts and rioting took place, this film with a little help of charactors in place creates events, it comes across well and certainly brings across what the whole stae was about, it doesent gel totally, thats but for most part a interesting watch
    scott g Super Reviewer
  • Sep 13, 2009
    I was very impressed with Stuart Townsend's directing for this film. The film had a style and look similar to films like Syriana and 21 Grams. Great performances by this ensemble. It was shot and edited well. I definitely recommend this powerful film.
    Sol C Super Reviewer
  • Jun 06, 2009
    I consider this movie more like documentary more than a real movie although it's based on true events. I thought this movie was intriguing but vague in certain ways. It has some very good actors in it though that make it interesting... Its November 1999, and five days are about to rock the world as tens of thousands of demonstrators take to the streets of Seattle in protest of the World Trade Organizations Ministerial Meeting. Among them are Django (Andre Benjamin), Sam (Jennifer Carpenter), Lou (Michelle Rodriguez) and Jay (Martin Henderson). Each has a unique story, but they're united in a common desire to be heard and to make a difference in the world. For these four protesters, this is very personal and the stakes are higher than mere politics. A peaceful demonstration to stop the WTO talks quickly escalates into a full-scale riot, and soon a State of Emergency is declared by the Mayor of Seattle. The streets are mayhem, and the WTO is paralyzed. Caught in the crossfire of civil liberties and keeping the peace are Seattle residents, including its beleaguered mayor (Ray Liotta), a riot cop on the streets (Woody Harrelson) and his pregnant wife (Charlize Theron). The choices they all make will change their lives forever. Writer/Director Stuart Townsend brings together this talented ensemble to intertwine different points of view from protesters and police to delegates and doctors -- each of whom intentionally or accidentally find themselves on the streets of Seattle in those last days of the millennium. Townsend seamlessly merges footage of the real event with his fictional narrative. Ultimately, Battle in Seattle illustrates that even against incredible odds, ordinary people can change the world.
    Manu G Super Reviewer
  • Apr 28, 2009
    Although the event was an important lesson for future manifestations across the globe, director Stuart Townsend fails to illustrate what his purpose in making the film is. However, as viewers, we understand that the demonstrators are fighting for the population whereas the political leaders are only interested in money. Another important aspect in the film is that it depicts the WTO issues which are widely criticized, but not everyone is aware of its consequences. Overall, two things. 1)Townsend should have made a documentary because there is much more to this WTO subject. 2) This film is a big smack in the face with this modern economic crisis!
    Linda K Super Reviewer

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