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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Review

Other Critics provided by

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

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Village Voice Michelle Orange

    "Mandela" is not without the capacity to move.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Variety Scott Foundas

    For all its failings, there is one thing about “Long Walk to Freedom” that can’t be denied: Idris Elba gives a towering performance, a Mandela for the ages.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Sometimes it's the most remarkable and heroic figures whom movies can't seem to get right. Such is the case with Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a biopic that is more dutiful than illuminating.

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  • 67

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Chris Nashawaty

    All of the highlights are dutifully hit, as in a made-for-TV movie (albeit a lavish, gorgeously photographed one). Unfortunately, they're hit with a sledgehammer.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Kenneth Turan

    It is the incendiary work of British actors Idris Elba and Naomie Harris as the couple in question that elevates our involvement in this authorized film version of Nelson Mandela's autobiography.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Richard Roeper

    Elba captures the fire and the passion of Mandela the young activist, the resilience of Mandela the political prisoner, and the wisdom and astonishing capacity of forgiveness of Mandela the elder statesman.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter David Rooney

    Mandela is straightforward storytelling of a type that’s somewhat out of fashion, but ultimately no less stirring for it.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 14 & under

Nelson Mandela deserves a great movie. This isn't it.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a biopic about the South African leader Nelson Mandela, and includes some disturbing violence. We see riots in the streets, with military shooting citizens, people being set on fire, and wounded, bleeding children. Winnie Mandela is handled roughly, abducted, thrown into prison, slapped around and generally mistreated. Nelson kisses and has sex with three women, two of whom he marries, though no nudity of any kind is shown. There's some rare language including a brief use of "f--k" and one use of "s--t." Long Walk to Freedom is not a very well-made movie, but teens may be inspired by it to look further into Mandela's remarkable life. I

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. How disturbing is it? Does it get its point across? Would the movie have the same impact without the violence?
  • Were you familiar with Nelson Mandela before seeing this movie? What did you learn? Were you inspired to learn more?
  • Can you imagine being separated from your loved ones for so long? How did this separation affect Mandela's relationships? What would you do?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: The movie's main theme is that people everywhere, no matter what color, deserve to be equal, ("one man, one vote"), with no compromises. Also that sacrificing oneself for the greater good is a generous and brave act. An epilogue asserts that people are not born hating each other; they must be taught. They can also be taught to love.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Even though Nelson Mandela deserved a stronger movie than this one, he's still a great role model, and a hero that families everywhere should know about. He began fighting against apartheid -- an official system of segregation -- in South Africa during the 1940s. At one point, he resorted to violence and was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. After serving 27 years, he was released and was elected as South Africa's president. He fought his entire life for freedom and equality. His wife during his imprisonment -- Winnie Mandela -- is also a strong figure.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: There are several newsreel-like scenes of riots in the streets, with the military shooting at civilians, and rioters throwing Molotov cocktails. Children are shown wounded and bleeding. Men are set on fire. Winnie Mandela is forcibly taken from her home and mistreated in prison, slapped and pushed around. The cops beat a black man to death, and some blood is shown. Nelson Mandela is shown boxing with an opponent. He fights with his first wife, telling her to "shut your stupid mouth." There are explosions as freedom fighters try to fight the establishment. There are several arguments and tense scenes of prison life.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Mandela kisses and sleeps with three women. No nudity of any kind is ever shown. With his first wife, he kisses and touches her leg; she insists that they must "wait until they are married." While married to her, he meets a pretty woman on the street and they have sex in a dark alley. After being divorced, he meets Winnie, and is shown kissing and having sex with her.

  • language false2

    Language: "F--king" is used once, but it's shouted during a noisy scene, and in a heavy accent, so it's hard to make out. "S--t" is heard once, much more clearly. "Piss" and "bitch" are also used.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Minor characters are shown smoking cigarettes in the background. In one scene Mandela and a friend go to a bar and the friend gets drunk and then is abused by police.