Before the Devil Knows You're Dead - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead Reviews

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September 17, 2016
Dirty rotten scoundrels these men are, but they weren't born that way - evidently there was a time in which they were sanguine, aware of their neuroses but not overpowered by them. But in the years that have gone by since their promising younger days, the effects of bad marriages, of failed attempts at parenting, of troubled childhoods, and of addiction, they've become possessed by desperation; they'd do just about anything to get out of their particular pits of despair.
These men, Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Hank (Ethan Hawke), are brothers, but their resemblance has less to do with their set of shared genetics and more to do with the way they're experiencing severely punishing midlife crises. While Andy's recently married his mistress, Gina (Marisa Tomei), marital bliss is hardly a given, and the stresses of his corporate job, paired with a crippling cocaine habit, have left him both pressed for happiness and money. Hank, sinuously having an affair with Gina on the side, lived an idyllic a few years ago, but he's divorced now, and his wife (Amy Ryan) is hateful and his teenage daughter is resentful.
Because they're strapped for cash and are generally overcome with the desire to break out of the prison of their lives, Andy despicably ropes Hank into a plan bound to fail and bound to break the already creaky ground they're currently standing on. The plan, idiotic and unsightly, involves the two robbing a jewelry store run by their parents (Albert Finney, Rosemary Harris). They know the structure of the outfit, anyway, and no one'd suspect the children of businesspeople to stoop to thievery to victimize their own kin.
But, alas, unwise plotting and sad incompetence on the part of Andy and Hank designates the conspiracy as a failed criminal stab before it even begins. "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" is not a standard heist thriller but a psychological drama that just so happens to feature a heist and a couple of tactile scenes of suspense. Unraveling non-linearly, with its climax executed early on and its developing of characters separated and characterized by first person focus, the film's all-seeing, free-wheeling design, reminiscent of "Pulp Fiction" or "The Killing," increases its depth.
Since we see several aspects of the movie's characters at once, watching them at their most comprehensively affected immediately, we're better able to understand what drives these people even before the first act commences. And that empathy, drawn from Kelly Masterson's outstanding screenplay, is the very thing that signifies that the putrid characters at the center of "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" are so crooked as a result of slow-in-the-making hopelessness, not out of inherent, two-dimensional cinematic deviousness.
So we manage to root for them, if only because their pathetic essences elicit a strange sort of sympathy. Hoffman, as passionately morose as ever, is superb as a man living as the shell of his formerly confident, powerful self, with Hawke convincing us that he really is the pitiful loser that is Hank. Best of all, though, is Finney, whose supporting performance turns out to be the most heartbreaking, most poignant thing about the film.
Remarkably, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" is the swan song of Sidney Lumet ("Network," "Running On Empty"), among Hollywood's most dependable and influential artists. While eighty-three during production and a recent recipient of the Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award, the film proves to be one of his most interesting efforts. And what an exciting thing that is: like Luis Buñuel, the Spanish auteur who manufactured some of his best features in his later years, Lumet's the kind of virtuoso to continue challenging himself despite having a reputation respectable enough to allow for retirement. I guess a true great never loses their mojo, and Lumet is unquestionably one of them.
Super Reviewer
September 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
½ September 14, 2016
"Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" - the title is based on an old Irish toast - does not reside in the far reaches of high art. It's just a caper melodrama. Still, it's an invigorating, refreshing, and unusual thing to see one done so expertly.

Both siblings have money problems and their neat solution is to plan a heist on a 'mom and pop' jewelry store. The sting is that the mom and pop in question are their own. In the grand tradition of heist movies, their plan unravels quickly because clearly no one knows what their really doing. Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) subcontracts the job of the heist itself to Hank (Ethan Hawke) who, unable to face it, subcontracts it to an even more inept work colleague. The results are predictably violent and chaotic. With the burden waving on their consciences, the two embark on an ever more desperate endeavor.

A well-made suspense thriller, a devastating story with exceptional direction and first-rate acting. No question about it. But at the end of the day, the severity of the impact of this tragic conclusion is not nearly as poignant due to an inadequate attachment to the brothers. Two protagonists who are self-centered individuals who are going to get theirs no matter the cost or consequence. Ethan Hawke deftly sketches Hank, the nearest thing to a likable character, as a terrified idiot who might be lovable, if it wasn't for his willingness to be talked into armed robbery.

Screenwriter Kelly Masterson structures the story with a series of flashbacks, which follow individual characters in the days leading up to the robbery. Each segment advances the action a little past the crime, and then, once the audience has caught up with the colorful backstory, he discards the flashbacks and pushes the narrative forward.

This is not classic Sidney Lumet, but it's ample evidence that after more than 40 years working in this business, the director is still capable of crafting an entertaining and thought provoking motion picture.
July 4, 2016
Tense and mortified are the two best ways to describe this movie. I bought it on a whim from the Blockbuster 4 for 20 bin, and and that turned out to be a steal.
½ June 27, 2016
Brilliantly acted this film takes these two brothers from bad to worse. Ethan Hawke and Phillip Seymour Hoffman play brothers Hank and Andy in this Sidney Lumet flick.  Both fallen on hard times financially (Hank more so than Andy), Andy imagines the perfect crime.  Knock over a mom and pop jewelry store.  Andy says the insurance will cover the robbery so no one will get hurt.  The only problem is the "mom and pop" store belongs to Hank and Andy's mom and pop.  Hank can't pay child support and Andy longs to take his wife, Gina (Marisa Tomei) back to Brazil to rekindle their dying romance.  The perfect crime, however, goes perfectly wrong and the rest of the film follows Hank and Andy on a downward spiral deeper into the pit of hell.  This is one of those films where you just can't find anyone to like.  Not even sad sap Gina is likeable as she's cheating on husband Andy with his brother Hank.  Poor father Charles (Albert Finney) isn't likeable either as he confesses of his poor parenting under the guise of "I wanted you to be better than me."  Finney, Hawke and Hoffman's performance's are masterfully done in this film.  Though I didn't like his character I couldn't help feel bad for Andy when he breaks down in the car and later completely falls apart at his drug dealer's apartment acting solely on desperation.  The movie travels back and forth on a four day timeline as the story is pieced together by flashing back and then forward through time.  If you see this flick you will not leave the theater in high spirits but you might remember that films don't always need to be a ridiculously high budgeted romp to catch your attention.  Before the Devil Knows You're Dead manages to take your breath away without CGI, death defying stunts, car chases and the like.
½ May 9, 2016
O constante e demasiado utilizado antes e durante chegaram a testar a minha fidelidade para com o ecrã mas no fim tudo culminou numa agradável sessão de cinema
April 24, 2016
is this not the greatest story ever?
February 26, 2016
Last directorial venture of the legendary Sidney Lumet is gripping, fast paced and packed with intense performances by Hoffman and Hawke.
½ February 22, 2016
Andy, an overextended broker, lures his younger brother, Hank into a larcenous scheme: the pair will rob a suburban mom-and-pop jewelry store that appears to be the quintessential easy target. The problem is, the store owners are Andy and Hank's actual mom and pop. When the seemingly perfect crime goes awry, the damage lands right at their doorstep. In the meantime, Andy's trophy wife is having a clandestine affair with Hank, and the family patriarch, who is intent on pursuing justice at all costs, is completely unaware that the culprits he is hunting are his own sons.
February 21, 2016
Dark and unsettling, "Before The Devil Knows Your Dead" is a superb family drama featuring excellent performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke.
February 4, 2016
So much of things to contemplate !
December 3, 2015
"Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" is a searing portrait of familial disfunction and devastating circumstantial fuck-ups, led by performances that are nothing short of mesmerizing from all lead characters. There are films in this life that wield a compelling power over anyone who watches. This is one of those films.
December 3, 2015
When people ask me to give them movie suggestions for some reason this is always right at the top of my list. This is one of those movies that it seems like not many people, that I know at least, have seen or even heard of. And with a top notch director and a very well known cast its hard for me to understand. I honestly think the title throws people off. Maybe they think that it is some kind of horror movie ? I am not really sure. But for the people that have not seen this movie, you are certainly missing out on something really good. I cannot delve too deep into the plot because it would give things away right off the start just by explaining what the movie is about. I will just say that the opening scene will leave you wanting more, and the way the movie progresses the movie will keep you wondering and have you interested throughout the duration of the film. Sometimes you come across people in life that seem to have it all together. They have the good job, the good looking girlfriend, money, nice suits, respect etc... But in reality it is all smoke in mirrors and that exterior is just hiding something that is breaking inside of them. I guess when it boils down to it this movie is a drama, but it is so much more than that. It is hard to really categorize Before the Devil Knows Your Dead because there are many elements that make it a great movie. This film really shows the extreme lengths people will go to when they are desperate. Not just desperate for money but also desperate for approval. Phillip Seymour Hoffman once again gives a great performance. But the standout here for me is Ethan Hawke. Hawke plays Hoffman's loser, down on his luck brother who just can't seem to do anything right. The interaction between the two brothers through the movie is downright awesome. Both actors are outstanding in each role. Before The Devil Knows Your Dead will keep you on the edge of your seat, shock you, and sometimes will downright frighten you. Do not be fooled by this long and strange title, give this movie a chance and watch it, you will not be disappointed.
November 28, 2015
A great cast, but for me the movie was trying to do too much, and so it did not really work for me. It is not a thriller but more the portrayal of two brothers who think they did not make it and so feel the need to ro the family store.
November 25, 2015
When people ask me to give them movie suggestions for some reason this is always right at the top of my list. This is one of those movies that it seems like not many people, that I know at least, have seen or even heard of. And with a top notch director and a very well known cast its hard for me to understand. I honestly think the title throws people off. Maybe they think that it is some kind of horror movie ? I am not really sure. But for the people that have not seen this movie, you are certainly missing out on something really good. I cannot delve too deep into the plot because it would give things away right off the start just by explaining what the movie is about. I will just say that the opening scene will leave you wanting more, and the way the movie progresses the movie will keep you wondering and have you interested throughout the duration of the film. Sometimes you come across people in life that seem to have it all together. They have the good job, the good looking girlfriend, money, nice suits, respect etc... But in reality it is all smoke in mirrors and that exterior is just hiding something that is breaking inside of them. I guess when it boils down to it this movie is a drama, but it is so much more than that. It is hard to really categorize Before the Devil Knows Your Dead because there are many elements that make it a great movie. This film really shows the extreme lengths people will go to when they are desperate. Not just desperate for money but also desperate for approval. Phillip Seymour Hoffman once again gives a great performance. But the standout here for me is Ethan Hawke. Hawke plays Hoffman's loser, down on his luck brother who just can't seem to do anything right. The interaction between the two brothers through the movie is downright awesome. Both actors are outstanding in each role. Before The Devil Knows Your Dead will keep you on the edge of your seat, shock you, and sometimes will downright frighten you. Do not be fooled by this long and strange title, give this movie a chance and watch it, you will not be disappointed.
½ October 21, 2015
A very effective and tense thriller from Sidney Lumet.
July 22, 2015
Well acted, but needlessly convoluted and slightly pretentious, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead stutters along with what should have been a simple but effective story.
July 19, 2015
Intense, haunting, and terrifically acted. Genius
½ June 16, 2015
PSH and Ethan Hawke work great together. Robbing your own parents is an interesting crime.
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