Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007)

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Critic Consensus: A tense and effective thriller, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead marks a triumphant return to form for director Sidney Lumet.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, and Marisa Tomei star in director Sidney Lumet's thriller concerning two brothers who hatch a plan to rob their parent's jewelry store. When the job goes awry, the entire family is set on a collision course with tragedy. Andy (Hoffman) is an overextended broker in desperate need of some cash. His brother, Hank (Hawke), isn't much better off, so when Andy hatches a plan to rob their parent's modest jewelry store, it seems like a foolproof way to make a quick buck. But Andy's trophy wife, Gina (Tomei), is secretly sleeping with libidinous younger brother Hank, and when the robbery proves a complete disaster it isn't long before loyalties start to shift. Now Andy and Hank's father, Charles (Finney), is determined to make the unidentified robbers pay for their crime. What's a father to do when he discovers that the ones he loves have become his worst enemies? ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

All Critics (172) | Top Critics (43)

The movie's title comes from the Irish toast, 'May you be in Heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you're dead.' Unfortunately, everyone in the film is running about 35 minutes late.

Sep 18, 2008 | Full Review…

Superior fare, packed with insight and suspense.

Jan 11, 2008 | Rating: 5/6 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

As the Shadow used to say, the weed of crime bears bitter fruit, and Lumet has made a delicious pie out of it.

Nov 28, 2007 | Full Review…

You feel Before the Devil Knows You're Dead more than you watch it. And the feeling is far from warm and fuzzy.

Nov 16, 2007 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

At a time when family movies are usurped by fantasies of sentimental feelgood, Lumet's latest -- the mangled-heist melodrama Before the Devil Knows You're Dead -- delivers a swift kick straight to the jewels.

Nov 16, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The problem is not that the director is working but that his latest film is working too hard. Way too hard â" this thing is melodrama running a marathon.

Nov 16, 2007 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

½

Sidney Lumet's final film is purely an actor's movie. Every performance is first rate and while the drama at times becomes overly melodramatic, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is heart wrenching drama told from multiple perspectives about one horrific action and the consequences that follow.

Edward Boxler
Edward Boxler

Super Reviewer

Domineering Philip Seymour Hoffman talks his weak willed younger brother into helping him rob their parents' jewelry store to solve both their financial difficulties, but when the heist goes wrong their lives start to unravel. Sidney Lumet has been making quality thrillers for 50 years, but in his latest effort he takes a few cues from his younger pretenders. The plot themes have a lot in common with Fargo and A Simple Plan and the execution is reminiscent of Jackie Brown and its familiar disjointed timeline. In fact there is little here that hasn't been done before so don't expect much in the way of originality or surprises, but the quality cast all put in solid performances and Lumet certainly still knows how to pace a story and crank up the suspense. No gimmickry, no pointless frills; just an extremely well crafted and intelligent thriller.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

½

Very dark, realistic and with outstanding acting this dramatic thriller tells the story of a jewelry robbery gone wrong and the catastrophic consequences it has for the family involved. The non-linear way to tell the story through the eyes of the protagonists adds an additional level of suspense. While some parts could have used some trimming, the result is still gut-wrenching as the noose tightens around the character's throats and you can't help but wonder how this mess is gonna end. Well done.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

½

Sidney Lumet is a director that's no stranger to crafting intense pieces of work. In fact, he's a master at it. Just look at a few from his highly impressive filmography like "12 Angry Men", "Fail-Safe", "Network" or "Serpico". He's also no stranger to a heist movie, having made one of the sub-genre's best in "Dog Day Afternoon". In "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead" - his last film before his death - Lumet returns to that sub-genre and, once again, delivers with aplomb. Hank (Ethan Hawke) and Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are two brothers whose financial woes are having a direct effect on their lives. In order to solve their problems, Andy hatches a plan to rob a jewellery store. He calls it a "mom and pop" operation and it's quite literally that: the store is owned by the brothers' parents. If all goes down as it supposed to, then nobody will get hurt. Like so many crimes of this nature though, things can and do go wrong, dragging everyone down with a devastating turn of events. Lumet builds his film slowly and assuredly, revealing the characters' motivations bit by bit before peeling away the layers of their downfall. To do this, he cleverly plays with timeframes; changing back, forward and during the robbery itself. The focus is on the two brothers, as well as their emotionally stilted father (Albert Finney). Of course, this type of narrative device is nothing new. We have seen it used many times before but Lumet's skill is in keeping it fresh and gripping. In support of his deft handling of the material, the actors deliver outstanding performances across the board; Tomei nails the ditzy wife routine; Hawke is marvellously high strung and weasel-like; Finney lends his usual reliability and there's a small but welcome role for a threatening Michael Shannon. Unsurprisingly though, it's Hoffman's movie. He has a real presence here shifting from secretive to calculated then deadly with absolute ease. It may be unfair to single out one particular actor but this is another example of Hoffman's incredible ability to completely inhabit a character. His downfall in particular, is of powerful and tragic Shakespearean proportions and he completely captures the intensity of a deeply immoral man. Sidney Lumet was in his 80's when he directed this, yet it shows a vibrancy that could easily be associated with a much younger director. With a canon of top-quality films behind him, this is as good and as riveting as anything he has done. Sadly it was his last but what a film to go out on.

Mark Walker
Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

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