Night Moves - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Night Moves Reviews

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April 26, 2012
Fantastic and satisfying neo-noir. There is a brooding atmosphere that catches something of the times in this challenging film. It builds tension very gradually in a way that makes you think it is a melodrama before diving headlong into the 1970s conspiracy thriller. A truly great script with some of the best lines I've ever heard - "Harry thinks if you call him Harry one more time he's going to make you eat that cat," dependably great performance from Hackman with decent support. More than a neo-noir like Chinatown, this brings noir themes up to date by exposing the cracks in 1970s American society - problems with free love, regional wage differences, the ongoing exploitation from Hollywood, greed and depression. The plot becomes so convoluted, even involving a Maltese Falcon like dingus, you'll never want it to end.
Super Reviewer
February 29, 2012
God, I love this film! I watched it last night for the first time in years. It's one that always gets an honourable mention in those lists of the great movies that nobody went to see on first release. Thirty-seven years on, it feels and is paced more like a small character piece than a thriller, but I imagine Warner Bros. had reasonably high commercial hopes for it when it was greenlit, just four years on from Gene Hackman's Oscar-snaffling turn in The French Connection, eight from director Arthur Penn's phenomenal - and phenomenally successful - Bonnie and Clyde.

Sometimes you see these neglected gems and it's completely baffling how they failed to find an audience at the time, but with Night Moves I can sort of understand how it slipped through the net. And it's not surprising that the film's critical stock began to rise with the advent of home video, when it became possible to re-examine atypically rich examples of cinema to ones heart's content. In my experience, if there's one thing an audience cannot stand it's a movie that makes them feel stupid, and, simply put - and I don't mean this as a criticism, as the effect is certainly intentional - Night Moves is probably the most forbiddingly opaque and ambiguous thriller of the 1970s.

Honestly, if you're one of those people who hates loose ends and likes a nice pat denouement, do yourself a favour and stay well clear of this because it will drive you up the wall! The first time you watch it, it's largely incoherent; the characters and their respective motivations emerge more clearly with each subsequent viewing, but there's still no getting away from the fact that no matter how many times you watch it, the movie remains a riddle without a solution, or rather a riddle with any number of different solutions.

R.I.P. Bruce Surtees, director of photography, 1937-2012
½ February 15, 2012
Underwhelming effort from director Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde; Little Big Man) that comes off as a mishmash of bad 70s melodrama: infidelity; crime; guns; nudity, and endless self-absorbed exchanges between characters searching to find themselves - all combining for an ultimately unsatisfying end. Notable as the fist credited performance by Melanie Griffith (only 17, already naked) and an early work of James Woods. "Night Moves" saving grace is lead Gene Hackman, who does his best to rise above this by-the-numbers story and direction. A detective flick that never quite moves the viewer enough to inevitably care how it all ends.
Super Reviewer
½ December 18, 2011
Everything is low key about this film, until the last thirty minutes when the plot violently unravels. As other great neo noirs of its type, it confronts a man with old fashioned morals and mentality with hypocrite modern day world. Gene Hackman gives another stelar performance.
November 22, 2011
A 1970s modern day film noir about a below average private investigator hired to find a missing teenage girl. The character study of Harry is yet another great performance by Gene Hackman. Always a pleasure to watch him work. Susan Clark and Jennifer Warren are both strong as well against Hackman and it was fun to see young James Woods and Melanie Griffith in supporting roles. This isn't a perfect movie. There are a couple of head-scratching moments like why Harry doesn't go back to listen to his answering machine after the girl dies and why if Harry is so upset about his wife's adultery does he commit it himself. But overall, buoyed by strong performances and good direction, Night Moves is worth the watch. Recommend.
stevetheman1236
Super Reviewer
November 15, 2011
Noir is such a provocative genre. There are so many likable characteristics about it. Each noir film has an underlying meaning, and they all deal with dark themes: greed, murder, corruption. It's impossible not to enjoy watching a mystery as it unfolds.

Arthur Penn's Night Moves is good example of noir, but it isn't a fantastic film. Why? The story is intriguing enough and it certainly holds many of the traits found in film noir, but it just doesn't have the "oomph" that it needs. You understand what I mean? Night Moves is a good film, but it needs to be a great film. With a story like this, it has to be.

I don't blame the cast or really even the direction. In fact, I'm not sure who to blame. Just know that the blame goes to someone, even if that someone doesn't have a face. This film is just a slight tick above average, when it should be powerful. It's a film about morals, family morals. The message is there, black and white. But Night Moves just doesn't have the... Well, I'm done trying to explain.

Gene Hackman continues to impress me with these younger roles. He is a fine actor and I see that now. His work nowadays doesn't really even being to compare with his 70's and 80's filmography. Here in Night Moves, his performance is one of the most attractive things. It's one of the best things that this film has to offer.

Just don't go into Night Moves with high expectations, like the critics will get you to believe with their 4/4 star ratings. This is not a fabulous picture. This is not even a great noir. It's a good noir, and watch it because of that. There's no real mystery to look for.

It's just all in the message. And that's what counts.
October 28, 2011
A muddled mystery thriller with some fine moments, but definitely not masterpiece.
October 26, 2011
A very cool Neo-Noir with a great cast. Also, excellent direction by "Bonnie and Clyde" director Arthur Penn. The final sequence is quite gripping!
September 17, 2011
Great neo-noir! I absolutely loved the moody, gritty poetry of the first 7/8ths, a little less keen on it once it became more of a straightforward thriller and raced a little too quick to it's conclusion. But even then, it was still damned entertaining, and a great closing shot.
½ September 6, 2011
Not a very apt movie title and a bit quirky, but I liked Hackman and the pace of this quiet thriller.
July 13, 2011
Hackman is a masterful actor but that's all there is to it. You have to wait for suspense to start for much too loooong.
Super Reviewer
½ June 23, 2011
An interesting neo-noir thriller but that is not near the masterpiece some critics make it be. Doesn't hold a candle to Arthur Penn's real masterpiece, "Bonnie and Clyde"
June 11, 2011
Hackman plays an old fashioned gumshoe who is consumed by a mystery that's above and beyond his comprehension. Hackman tries to be like Bogart, but he is constantly making the wrong decision and is easily manipulated by the suspects. So, in that regard Nigh Moves is an anti noir film. The movie is completely self aware to the fact that its main function is as a commentary on the old noir genre. It uses the words 'case' and 'clues' with such emphasis that lets the audience in on the joke. And in the end we are left wondering, with Hackman, where exactly did he go wrong.
½ June 3, 2011
This is currently unavailable in the UK, but I'm a fan of both star and director so I made the effort to get it from the States. While it is a neat performance from Hackman, the films slow burn sense of bubbling perplexity, deceit, and paranoia, never build to a suitable fervour, and as a result it never gripped me the way that other films of this era or genre have. It's worth a look, but there are superior examples of both Hackman and Penn's work.
June 2, 2011
There was no better decade for American cinema than the 1970s.
½ May 30, 2011
Among great films that Arthur Penn directed, this one seems to be heavily overlooked, but I don't think this infers to even "Bonnie & Clyde" that much. I love the title, how well Hackman fits to the character, cinematography of night scenes, and bitter but very precise and strong ending. Penn's delicate directing is masterly.
Super Reviewer
½ May 2, 2011
I really enjoyed this, however, there were several holes in the plot. Why doesn't Moseby go back and finish listening to his answering machine after the character dies? He had cut off the playback of their message mid plot-revealing sentence when his estranged wife drops in for make-up sex. He even reminds himself later that it was the last contact that he had had with the deceased. It was very difficult to identify the character flying the plane at the end. Speaking of the ending, there really isn't one, just a lot of dead and dying with no hint if Moseby will survive.
April 8, 2011
Some people were born to do certain things in life. Gene Hackman was born to be a grizzled character in 70s movies. The guy he portrays, Harry Moseby, was born to be a private eye in the 50s. Unfortunately for Harry, the movie takes place in the 70s and the intentionally out-of-place hard boiled dialogue fits right in with the man who's in the wrong era and in over his head. A solid movie, Hackman turns in a great performance.
February 22, 2011
I wanted to like this film more than I did, but the occasionally stilted dialogue, paired with some murky plot developments, kept me from fully enjoying the story as a whole.
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