Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 173


Audience Score

User Ratings: 86,504
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Movie Info

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 (173) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (152) | Rotten (21)

Audience Reviews for Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

  • Sep 15, 2016
    Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is a crime drama directed by Sidney Lumet and stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, and Marisa Tomei. Andy (Hoffman), in a strained marriage with Gina (Tomei) and struggling financially, recruits his younger brother, Hank (Hawke), to commit a robbery. Revealing any additional info would spoil the movie, so I'll leave it at that. The best aspect of this movie is its quality acting. PSH was always reliable when it came to delivering a well-developed character, and this movie is no exception. Marisa Tomei also gives a strong performance and had great chemistry with both Hoffman and Hawke, who was ok. I also really enjoyed the story and it's twists and turns along the way. Lumet did a great job pacing this movie to keep things interesting throughout; I never felt bored with the 2-hour runtime. The one big negative I have with this movie is the non-sequential execution. I'm not opposed to movies that aren't presented in chronological order, but only when it's used in an effective way to reveal plot information. The first half of this movie leading up to the events of the robbery is great because the sequencing works well with the information being presented. It's the second half of the movie after the robbery when the sequencing feels more like a gimmick than an effective tool. Overall, this is an enjoyable crime film. If you like PSH, you'll really appreciate his performance here. It's not a masterpiece, but Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is worth a watch. Final grade: B -Ben
    Ben B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 15, 2013
    Sidney Lumet's last movie as a director, before he died in 2011, was this crime drama... and what a drama it was! No wonder that it was selected as one of 2007's ten most influential American films by the American Film Institute at the 2007 AFI Awards calling the director "a living treasure". A real pleasure to watch, involving all senses and existing emotions. Written by Kelly Masterson, the film stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, and Albert Finney. The title comes from the Irish saying: "May you be in heaven a full half-hour before the devil knows you're dead". The beauty of the story is that unfolds non-linearly, repeatedly going back and forth in time, with some scenes shown from various points of view, making a mosaic of tragic events and misjudgements where there is no winner at the end! All protagonists are connected on many levels and we are slowly discovering all these connections through the movie. Andy Hanson (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a finance executive at a real estate firm in New York City and is facing an upcoming audit which will reveal huge amounts missing from his employer in support of his drug habit. He wants to escape to Brazil, and to raise the necessary funds for the trip he hatches a scheme and enlists the aid of his brother, Hank (Ethan Hawke), himself in need of money. Hank, meanwhile, has been having a long-standing affair with Andy's wife, Gina (Marisa Tomei), who has been unsatisfied with her marriage. Very intricate exploration of family dysfunction in such a way that I could not find any possible faults with it, while it's coolly controlled examination of increasingly insane criminal ineptitude is to be remembered by many. The great master Sidney Lumet delivered, as his last artwork, a hypnotizing film for the next generations, to be remembered for many, many years by its intensity!
    Panta O Super Reviewer
  • Oct 12, 2012
    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 W Super Reviewer
  • Oct 06, 2012
    Before the Devil Knows Your Dead is brilliant and great finale to the lifetime of masterpieces from Sidney Lumet. Lumet directs this film with so much style and beauty to the story, and I truly felt like I was watching a work of art unfold before my eyes. It quickly grabs the audience and by the last 30 minutes of the film it will be hard to turn away. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke are both incredible in their roles, and deserve praise for how much they perfectly fit their characters. I loved watching the way the story unfolded and how character driven the film was, and I think its safe to say that Sidney Lumet left us a brilliant send of to his lifetime of treasures.
    Bradley W Super Reviewer

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