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No consensus yet.
All Critics (12)
| Top Critics (4)
| Fresh (10)
| Rotten (2)
| DVD (4)
The Onion Field is a serious and most uncompromising movie. It lacks, however, the sort of disciplined craft that might have made it a powerful and affecting one.
James Woods as the near-psychotic Powell is chillingly effective, creating a flakiness in the character that exudes the danger of a live wire near a puddle.
It's the usual heavy Wambaugh brew: police procedure closely observed without a trace of romanticism, suggesting simply that life in the force is psychological hell.
The film is generally crisp and at times exciting, but it's also full of incidents that are only sketchily explained, and minus the all-important narrative thread that might have provided a clear point of view.
Brutal, even sordid, but compulsive viewing.
Good acting and careful direction by Becker make it worth seeing, but the violence and the language may be too graphic for some tastes.
Ranks among the best crime films of the late 1970s...and that puts the flick among some rather impressive company.
Thoughtful trial movie with a disturbing edge.
"The Onion Field" features a complex narrative and well-developed characters, but ultimately, it never goes anywhere. The scenes that are meant to provoke emotion fall flat, the final twenty minutes or so are unnecessary, and the pacing is slow and unbalanced. James Woods delivers a strong performance, but that's about it. There's nothing noteworthy about this film other than that.
The Onion Field has real potential to be a very compelling film. There are tons of great character pieces with a complex plot, but it all somehow just doesn't go anywhere. This film is based on true events, but I'm wondering if the actual events were portrayed as is, and if so, did they need to be so true to them? I'm not going to spoil the entirety of the film, nor am I going to get into a discussion on dramatic character development and satisfactory story, but it basically winds down to nothing. Dramatic tension tries its hardest to kick in at times with little to no pay-off. This, to me, seemed more suited to be a Broadway production rather than a film. Two hours of complex plot and emotionally unsatisfying events make for a very dull film, despite the talent behind it.
A fantastic crime/prison movie, the story is really incredible, and the actors are great. The only problem is that it's a little too long. Other than that I loved it.
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