Shanghai (2015) - Rotten Tomatoes

Shanghai (2015)

Shanghai (2015)



Critic Consensus: Shanghai is crippled by a weak story and fatally undermined by clunky direction, making for a period political drama that lacks all of its key components.

Shanghai Photos

Movie Info

This period drama concerns an American (John Cusack) in Shanghai who, through the investigation of the death of a friend, ends up falling in love while stumbling upon a political conspiracy. 1408 helmer Mikael Håfström directs. Gong Li and Ken Watanabe co-star in the production, from a script supplied by Hossein Amini. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi
R (for strong violence, some drug use and brief language)
Drama , Mystery & Suspense , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Box Office:
The Weinistein Company

Watch it now


John Cusack
as Paul Soames
Yun-Fat Chow
as Anthony Lan-Ting
Ken Watanabe
as Tanaka
Li Gong
as Anna Lan-Ting
Hugh Bonneville
as Ben Sanger
Wolf Kahler
as German Consul
David Morse
as Richard Astor
Franke Potente
as Leni Müller
Yuan On
as Yuan
Benedict Wong
as Juso Kita
Christopher Buchholz
as Karl Müller
Gemma Chan
as Shin Shin
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Shanghai

Critic Reviews for Shanghai

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (11)

Cusack is halfway between Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Stewart, and the result doesn't come together.

Full Review… | October 7, 2015
Tribune News Service
Top Critic

Even if an uncredited editor were hired to make clear sense of these pieces, the film wouldn't work.

Full Review… | October 2, 2015
Top Critic

You might be forgiven for expecting either an unfairly squelched masterpiece or an unholy mess. The movie is neither, although it falls closer to the mess side of the table.

Full Review… | October 1, 2015
New York Times
Top Critic

Under Mikael Håfström's visually clunky, rhythmless direction, it's a snooze of epic sameness: choppy action scenes, a blankly stern Cusack, and too many allegiance shifts to count or care for.

Full Review… | October 1, 2015
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

It is hampered by weak writing and a badly executed story line.

Full Review… | October 1, 2015
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Director Mikael Hafstrom and a fine cast and crew have made a film that's elegant and gauche in roughly equal measure.

Full Review… | October 1, 2015
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Shanghai

This movie rating is the strongest example I've ever seen that Rotten Tomatoes (a site I generally like) can be utterly utterly misleading. This movie is a spy/Neo-Noire gem. Not in any half-arsed way, but a real well put together classic in the same broad genre as the Quiet American (Michael Caine version). I'm a fan of Neo-Noire and spy films and WWII dramas, but that just makes it my genre. I'm still super critical when it comes to movies, and this one rocks. 4% my ass. I laugh at the other reviews here!

Arven Alexander
Arven Alexander

Set in the backdrop of World War II, this spy thriller is passable. It falters mainly towards the climax. You aren't taken aback when you find out who's the criminal. Besides it doesn't make sense why X prefers to help Y who's just attempted to hurt him badly instead of Z who wishes to redeem for his mistake by doing X a favor (which is clearly evident in the penultimate sequence). Cusack is a good actor and gives his best, but some actors simply don't fit every bill. The rest of the casting was appropriate, though.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer


What a cast!! Ken Watanabe, Chow Yun Fat, John Cusack and Li Gong in this almost epic 40's noir type mystery cross war flick set just before the Pearl Harbour bombings. The film looks beautiful with lavish sets touched up with cgi cityscape's dotted throughout, a nice mix of models and cgi which is easy on the eye, a good balance. The costumes, cars, buildings and sets in general are all perfect and lovingly put together which is clear to see, allot of effort in this film for the grand look. Of course the cast compliments this nicely with great performances all round, despite Cusack maybe being slightly out of place, but even minor or brief roles are well played by known character actor faces from both the West and East. The film is a big vision, a vision of one of China's oldest and largest cities but its a slow burner for sure so don't get excited expecting lots of action, there are sequences of gun fighting and 'mob' type hits but for the most part this is mainly dialog in good looking locations. I'll be honest, this film did get a touch boring throughout with many characters, changing relationships, alliances, crosses and much spy/espionage chat (you need to pay attention) but little spy/espionage thrills, what there is was short and sharp and benefits from excellent camera work. There are moments of quality acting and sombre visions of war which does really make this film special, the noirish private eye side gives it a fresh look and unique feel as you sometimes forget its a war film with the smoke filled gambling dens and neon lights that twinkle in the Shanghai streets. Its all gorgeous to watch but not quite as interesting story wise, swaying alittle towards abit muddled or confusing at times, I need to see it again really.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

Shanghai Quotes

Discussion Forum

Discuss Shanghai on our Movie forum!

News & Features