Critics Consensus

With random characters and a preposterous plot, this bizarre thriller might leave you with your mouth hanging open in disbelief.



Total Count: 57


Audience Score

User Ratings: 65,041
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Movie Info

A late-career change of heart leads to a dangerous life on the run for two seasoned assassins whose complex relationship masks a dark past in director Lee Daniels' pulpy film noir. When Mickey (Cuba Gooding Jr.) was just a child, his abusive father savagely murdered the young boy's mother shortly before being gunned down by Rose (Helen Mirren), Mickey's stepmother. Twenty years later, Mickey and Rose are not only working together as hired killers, but they have grown to become lovers as well. When Rose discovers she is dying of terminal cancer and becomes addicted to morphine, her conscience soon prompts her to reevaluate her murderous ways. Assigned the task of taking out Vickie (Vanessa Ferlito), the wife of local crime boss Clayton (Stephen Dorff), Mickey and Rose are unable to complete their mission upon discovering that Vickie is pregnant. With the tragedy of the past threatening to lock Mickey, Rose, and their reluctant charge into a tragic cycle of death and deceit, the reluctant killers attempt to make amends for their violent past by protecting Vickie's unborn child and allowing Rose one last chance at redemption.

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Critic Reviews for Shadowboxer

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (24)

  • Aaron Spelling may be slapping his forehead, but a few cemetary plots over, 1950's melodrama king Douglas Sirk is smiling.

    Feb 1, 2009 | Rating: C | Full Review…
  • Thumbs down to a movie of such vile and violent temper.

    Aug 25, 2006 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Gosh, it's almost too bad/good to be true.

    Aug 25, 2006 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • The one thing I'll say about Shadowboxer is that it's never boring. Of course, I could also say that about stepping on crushed glass.

    Aug 7, 2006
  • It ... has an insistently fussy and grandiose production design that mistakes lavish textures, brilliant colors and exotic backdrops for story atmosphere and style.

    Aug 4, 2006 | Rating: 2/4
  • It tells a story that would fit perfectly in a standard Hollywood action thriller, but it tells it in the grammar and syntax of an art film. The two sensibilities make no sense together.

    Aug 3, 2006 | Rating: 2.5/5

Audience Reviews for Shadowboxer

  • Oct 02, 2011
    Two hired assassins help raise their mark's daughter while being pursued by her sociopath boyfriend. Lee Daniels's, the director behind <i>Precious</i>, debut is an attempt at a thriller, but it's in the guise of an art film with all of the pretension and none of the art. There are long sequences during which the actors emote and look vaguely troubled, and the stylized violence that is supposed to look cool, an imitation of Tarantino. Even the characters are reminiscent of Tarantino, and Daniels's addition is a unmentioned and unexplained mismatch of romantic couples. The 100-pound Joseph Gordon-Levitt is paired with the ... uh ... over-100-pound Mo'Nique, and the thirty-eight-year-old Cuba Gooding Jr is paired with sixty-one-year-old Helen Mirren. The latter match is explained by an odd step-Oedipal complex, but suffice it to say that I think these matches are Daniels's attempt at liberal multiculturalism, saying that love transcends looks, age, and race, but it all comes at the expense of verisimilitude. I did enjoy the performances in parts, especially by Stephen Dorff as the psycho boyfriend, but overall, there isn't much that could redeem this film.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jun 28, 2010
    this is interesting, could possibly be a lot better, like the liam neeson film taken it is entertaining with some stupid and silly moments, but always grabs you, it certainly wants to be serious, helen mirren whos always watchavble playing a top assassin, while acting like a grandmother, commands scren, while cuba gooding junior plays her sidekick, while stephen dorff, is embaressing as bad guy, entertaining though
    scott g Super Reviewer
  • Apr 21, 2010
    Omg...what the hell did I just watch? This movie is worthless and clearly without a doubt sucks. Not one of Lee Daniels best. If I were Daniels I'd be embarressed if given the oppertunity to direct this harmful, toxic waste of a picture.
    Brian R Super Reviewer
  • Feb 21, 2010
    A curiosity of a film by Lee Daniels sandwiched between producing MONSTERS BALL four years earlier and directing PRECIOUS four years later. Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jr play mismatched stepmum & stepson lovers and contract killers, Mo'Nique and Joseph Gorden-Levitt play mis-matched lovers and squabblers, and Macy Gray plays being mighty cross when her best friend vanishes. You''ll either really enjoy this or think its a pile of tosh.
    Lesley N Super Reviewer

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