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Never Back Down Review Critics


Dave White Profile

… it's got its moves down … Read full review

Other Critics provided by

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

  • 2.0

    out of 100

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

  • 25

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly

    Movie is dopey. And with its emphasis on stupid violence, xylophone abs, and getting yourself on YouTube, it's yet another product that makes you feel bad about today's youth culture.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    This movie isn't bad just because it follows a formula slavishly but because it does so without verve or passion.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    It’s a little “Karate Kid,” a smidge of “Fight Club” (with none of the ironic ambivalence toward violence that David Fincher brought to that story), a lot of “The O.C.” (evil boy Gigandet played an evil boy on that series), and presto: probable hit.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    Although the movie set in the hot new arena of mixed martial arts is a bit short on star power, it's energetic and warm-hearted enough to become a word-of-mouth hit.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Never Back Down reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 13+

Bloody fight film has heart, but it's no champion.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this action-drama is very much a fight film -- it's filled with brutal, gory scenes of men (and women, too) engaged in physical combat. They punch, kick, and choke each other, and there's plenty of cuts, bruises, and blood. There's also some swearing ("s--t," "bitch") and underage drinking (though viewers don't see actual liquor, the red plastic cups the teens hold are clearly full of alcohol). In many scenes, women and men wear nothing but bikinis and swim trunks, and there's some kissing and a little innuendo.

  • Families can talk about why Jake feels compelled to fight. How does his approach to fighting change from the beginning to the end? What lessons does he learn from his mentor? How does he show that he's learned them? Does Jake teach Jean anything? Why are there so many movies about fighting? What's the attraction? How do you know who's the "good" guy and who's the "bad" guy in movies like this? Is that realistic?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Teens videotape others while they fight, sometimes cheering them on, even though one or both could end up severely injured. One character relishes hurting others. But there are also some great examples of loyalty and friendship, as well as a supportive sibling relationship. And Jake learns the value of walking away from fights.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: A barrage of brawls that leave participants bloodied and, in some cases, severely injured. Lots of close-ups of kicks and punches and their bloody aftermath. The big climax is a major "beat down."

  • sex false0

    Sex: Some kissing and sexual innuendoes. Some skimpy outfits.

  • language false3

    Language: "Bulls--t," "ass," and "bitch." Some trash talk during fights.

  • consumerism false3

    Consumerism: Mentions of YouTube, logos for Pepsi and Mustang GT. Students are shown toting around iPhones and digital cameras.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: At a party, teens are shown holding red plastic cups, implying that they're drinking beer. In another scene, an adult offers teenagers a drink.