Battle in Seattle (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

Battle in Seattle (2008)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

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

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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
Rating:
R (for language and some violence)
Genre:
Action & Adventure , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:

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Cast

Ray Liotta
as Mayor Jim Tobin
Joshua Jackson
as Randall
Tzi Ma
as Governor
Rade Serbedzija
as Dr. Maric
Channing Tatum
as Johnson
Haskell Wexler
as Himself
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News & Interviews for Battle in Seattle

Critic Reviews for Battle in Seattle

All Critics (62) | Top Critics (25)

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.

Full Review… | August 8, 2009
indieWIRE
Top Critic

It sheds much needed light on a mostly forgotten event in our country's history.

Full Review… | November 6, 2008
At the Movies
Top Critic

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.

November 6, 2008
At the Movies
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | October 17, 2008
Toronto Star
Top Critic

There is a monster in Battle in Seattle, but it never speaks and remains mysterious.

October 17, 2008
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | October 16, 2008
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Battle in Seattle

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 Gino
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

½

"We are still fighting the Battle" 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. Review What a surprise that there are actually people interested in making films like this. I must question, however, as the head activist did in the film, what these activists actually accomplished? I believe it is better to work with one's brains than actually provoke such direct antagonism in order to achieve the goals which this film so proudly and courageously professes. A general strike would be the vehicle to get people's attention, but I am not sure that these are the kind of groups with so much hatred which would attract a general demographic. They should try to become calm and rethink their long term strategy. The correct overview of the ensuing five years of the convention at the end of the film points to the fact that no significant gains were made. That, and work with young people, not old, to get them thinking and about and acting on the problems of our world. It would be great if they could be reached before high school, but most probably in high school and college is where the ideological education must be perused. All in all a very good film which does make people feel as well as think.

Lorenzo von Matterhorn
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]While "Battle in Seattle" may not exactly be in the same league as "Bloody Sunday" (using unfamiliar actors would have definitely added to the realism), it is still an impressively effective dramatization of the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle with footage of the actual events mixed in. In order to make us understand what there is to protest, the movie starts with a brief history of the World Trade Organization(WTO). Trust me. It is not pretty.[/font] [font=Century Gothic]What however is, is the first shot of the movie of a protester(Michelle Rodriguez) hanging from a crane over downtown Seattle, successfully hanging a banner under the direction of Jay(Martin Henderson), the coordinator of the peaceful protests which the mayor(Ray Liotta) has allowed under the false presumption that they cannot halt the WTO meetings which are meant to give the city some prestige. On the first day, the protesters outflank his police and disrupt downtown, even as Dr. Maric(Rade Serbedzija) of Doctors without Borders, and Abassi(Isaach De Bankole), an African representative, hope to get their voices heard inside the barricades.[/font] [font=Century Gothic]While "Battle in Seattle" tells the story of these fateful days from a variety of viewpoints which also include a television reporter(Connie Nielsen) and a policeman(Woody Harrelson) whose pregnant wife(Charlize Theron), a store clerk who is caught up in the mayhem in downtown, the main focus is on the protesters(But nothing on the anarchists, though.) with some unnecessary backstory added in. The question should not be why the protesters were there but why there were not more people since a citizen's responsibilty does not simply end with the vote. And a protest is not about winning or losing, but about making one's collective voice heard by an organization that is uninterested in listening to the common people. This particular protest was the start of something special, as one character remarks that this is the first protest of the age of the internet.[/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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