Critic Reviews



Based on 11 critic reviews provided by
Apart from its pure entertainment value - this is the best American crime movie in years - it is an important statement about a time and a condition that should not be forgotten. The Academy loves to honor prestigious movies in which long-ago crimes are rectified in far-away places. Here is a nominee with the ink still wet on its pages.
USA Today
A powerful drama about the murder of three civil-rights workers in the South. Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe are FBI men investigating. A legitimate Oscar contender. [6 Jan 1989, p.5D]
Washington Post
Mississippi Burning speeds down the complicated, painful path of civil rights in search of a good thriller. Surprisingly, it finds it
The New York Times
For those who know such places, Mr. Parker, who is English, evokes the texture, the gritty, fly-specked Southernness, the brooding sense of small-town menace, the racial hatred, with considerable accuracy.
Though its credibility is undermined by a fanciful ending, Mississippi Burning captures much of the truth in its telling of the impact of a 1964 FBI probe into the murders of three civil rights workers.
With remarkable performances, aggressive direction and a cracking pace, this is superb cinema, even if the historical accuracy leaves much to be desired.
San Francisco Chronicle
Parker recreates the hate-and-fear-filled atmosphere in that small Southern town with broad brush strokes. But in the end, all of his spectacular fires send out a lot more heat than light. [13 Jan 1989, p.E1]
Mississippi Burning is visually splendid. Director Parker and his crew have created a film that is unquestionably watchable. As a history lesson, however, it's laughable.
Boston Globe
Mississippi Burning plays loose with truth, turning the history of the civil rights movement on its head. The filmmakers shamelessly transform what was ultimately a triumph of due process and nonviolent civil disobedience into an ugly might-makes-right spectacle. It's "Dirty Harry" coming at you from the left. [27 Jan 1989, p.72]
Chicago Reader
The glorification of the FBI, the obfuscation about Jim Crow laws, and the absurd melodramatics may all have been well-intentioned, but the understanding about the past and the present of racism that emerges is depressingly thin.

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