Critics Consensus

Demolition benefits from a stellar cast, even if their solid work isn't always enough to prop up a confused story that aims for profundity but too often settles for clichés.



Total Count: 203


Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,014
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Movie Info

Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal), a successful investment banker, struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father in law, Phil (Chris Cooper), to pull it together, Davis continues to unravel. What starts as a complaint letter to a vending machine company turns into a series of letters revealing startling personal admissions. Davis' letters catch the attention of customer service rep, Karen Mareno (Naomi Watts) and amidst emotional and financial burdens of her own, the two form an unlikely connection. With the help of Karen and her son, Chris (Judah Lewis), Davis starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew.


Jake Gyllenhaal
as Davis Mitchell
Naomi Watts
as Karen Moreno
Judah Lewis
as Chris Moreno
Brendan Dooling
as Todd Koehler
Hani Avital
as Young Waitress
Celia Au
as Punk Girl
Nancy Ellen Shore
as Socialite philanthropist
Ben Cole
as Steven
Debra Monk
as Davis' Mom
Malachy Cleary
as Davis' Dad
Tom Kemp
as Dr. Brodkey
Lytle Harper
as Attractive Waitress
Zariah Singletary
as Upscale Girl
Bjorn Dupaty
as DOT Agent #1
Jane Dashow
as Buccaneer Diner Waitress
Royce Johnson
as Security Marty
Mark Lewis
as Chris' Doctor
Aaron Bantum
as Chris' Friend
Kevin Herbst
as Mourner
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News & Interviews for Demolition

Critic Reviews for Demolition

All Critics (203) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (108) | Rotten (95)

  • A moving account of how the process of grief can take on strange forms.

    Apr 28, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • There's a beauty in the breakdown, and it's amongst the rubble that Davis finds himself living, rather than enduring, his life.

    Apr 13, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • There is much to savor here, especially the unforced performance of Judah Lewis -- one more recruit to the terrific roster of younger actors who are streaming into the movies. Yet the film lacks the courage of its affliction.

    Apr 11, 2016 | Full Review…
  • Thank god for Jake Gyllenhaal. Absent his performance, Demolition would have been a more unbearable slog than it is.

    Apr 10, 2016 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Director Jean-Marc Vallée doesn't seem to mind when his movies become sun-dappled insta-redemption stories so long as there's a bravura central turn holding it all down.

    Apr 8, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The best I can say is that it's another tour de force for Gyllenhaal, although his intensity isn't matched by the movie itself.

    Apr 8, 2016 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Demolition

  • Apr 04, 2017
    A harrowing and complex guide to how the mind copes with trauma. The story goes through the motions of loss and finding yourself in a slowly paced and painfully uneventful series of events. Ultimately it fails to deliver any real compelling narrative.
    Drake T Super Reviewer
  • Mar 22, 2017
    A disappointing character drama, Demolition explores a man's journey through the grief process and attempt to find his personal truth. When Davis Mitchell loses his wife in a car accident he finds an unlikely means of catharsis by writing to a vending machine customer service agent; meanwhile he becomes obsessed with tearing things apart, wanting to see beyond the surface. Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, and Chris Cooper lead the cast and give fairly strong performances. But the writing is weak and the plot is a mess. Also, the ending is rather unsatisfying and leaves a lot of things open-ended. Disjointed and unfocused, Demolition meanders about and never really comes together.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 08, 2016
    It's not the typically structured or impeccably written piece that Gyllenhaal usually takes on. Heck, what would you expect with a title of 'Demolition'. But peeling back the layers of this character and film make for an interesting watch, to say the least. Jean-Marc Vallée directs this as his follow-up to Wild and Dallas Buyers Club, and it's yet another interesting character study in his filmography. Vallée does a nice job of getting the most out of Jake Gyllenhaal, because I'm not sure this movie works without his performance. In fact, seeing the recent 'Nocturnal Animals' makes Gyllenhaal's performance here even more impressive. Both characters deal with grief and loss in a completely different way and watching him create an entirely separate persona for each, and still have it seem real, shows his immense talent. Along with Gyllenhaal (Davis), the film stars Naomi Watts, Judah Lewis, and Chris Cooper. All of them contribute to the arc of grief to recovery for Davis throughout the movie. At its core, the film is about breaking down Davis' consciousness, or lack thereof, and his attempt to rekindle emotion in any sort of way. The film is downright strange, and probably unlike anything I have ever seen, but I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. There's something about the passionless and quirky nature of Davis that was fascinating. Especially, when he's up against Watts, who plays a similarly peculiar character. Ultimately, the story is only going to end one way. So as much as the film's portrayal of grief and sorrow is unique, we know where it will eventually end up. It's not a film that was especially entertaining, or emotionally powerful, but I definitely found it to be unique. So props to Vallée and others involved for at least making a different film. +Gyllenhaal & Watts +Peeling back his emotions was portrayed uniquely -Not necessarily the most entertaining or profound story, however 6.7/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Oct 08, 2016
    Okay. Nothing really special. Gyllenhaal's acting is solid, as is the supporting cast's. But the story doesn't really pan out as well as it could. You're supposed to feel some sort of empathy for Heather Lind's character throughout the film, when the film doesn't do a good job of explaining who she is. You have no idea what kind of person she is by the film's conclusion (and I get that this is kind of the point because Gyllenhaal's character doesn't really know her either...but still, this is lazy character development).
    Stephen S Super Reviewer

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