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American History X Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Gene Siskel

    A shockingly powerful screed against racism that also manages to be so well performed and directed that it is entertaining as well. [30 October 1998, Friday, p.A]

  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    May be flawed, but it's not easily forgotten.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    While this movie is sometimes overbaked, it is the first major studio release in a while to engross wall-to-wall.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    A series of well-drawn sketches and powerful scenes, in search of an organizing principle.

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  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    This is the sort of incendiary role a lot of actors would kill for, yet the shock of Norton's performance isn't its showboat flamboyance. It's that he makes this sadistic junior sociopath rueful and intelligent.

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  • See all American History X reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

This dark drama is not for kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this flawed but live-wire drama of two brothers caught up in a violence-ridden SoCal skinhead lifestyle raises some important points, but the mixture of very R-rated realism (strong language, hideous violence, and frank sex) makes this a very guarded choice for anyone but older teens and up.

  • Families can talk about how there are actually such things as skinhead-punk gangs who are avowedly anti-racist, and if that's any better a solution to the cycle of violence and reprisal here.

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: One character, seemingly an unredeemable racist and criminal, completely cleans up his act. Others are either virtuous (but ineffective), or entirely evil.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: Numerous fights and particularly brutal murders.

  • sex false5

    Sex: A prison rape and a lusty skinhead girlfriend.

  • language false5

    Language: Very Strong language.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Drinking and drug-dealing.