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Witness 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 Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    This is, first of all, an electrifying and poignant love story....And it is also one hell of a thriller.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Time Richard Schickel

    Witness, which is one of the most originally conceived and gracefully made suspense dramas of recent years, to work into edgy juxtaposition the representatives of two subcultures that are ordinarily mutually exclusive.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The New York Times Vincent Canby

    It's not really awful, but it's not much fun. It's pretty to look at and it contains a number of good performances, but there is something exhausting about its neat balancing of opposing manners and values.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Witness states its position about clashing cultures with eloquence.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Gene Siskel

    Witness" is both exciting and thoughtful.... And just as important to moviegoers, Witness is a genuinely gripping thriller. [08 Feb 1985]

  • See all Witness reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 14 & under

Taut drama has a few moments of intense violence.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Witness has just a couple scenes of intense violence, including a murder where the victim's throat is cut while a young boy watches. There is also some sexual tension between a man and woman with an extended scene of the woman bathing where her breasts are visible. A bit of strong language, including "f--k," pops up during confrontations between the clearly distinguished "good" and "bad" guys.

  • Families can talk about the difference between John Book's and the Amish people's approach to conflict resolution. Which do you think the movie supports? How can you tell?

  • Are there ever movies without a love interest or some kind of romantic tension? What does romance add to a movie?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: Honesty is always best, but it's not always easy. There's an appreciation for the slower life the Amish lead, though the ultimate message is that violence is necessary in certain circumstances.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: John Book is an honest cop trying to protect a young boy from a group of corrupt fellow officers. He risks his life to do the right thing.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: There are just a few violent scenes, but they're pretty intense. A young boy witnesses a murder, and after the thugs slit the victim's throat in a public bathroom, they decide to check on every stall and almost discover the terrified witness. Later, the murderers hunt the boy to a farm, where he's being protected by a police officer who takes on the gang even though he's unarmed, and finds a way to pick them off one by one. In another scene, a group of local toughs intimidate several Amish farmers who are devoted to their nonviolent beliefs. The punks get a big surprise from someone who looks like the other Amish, but definitely doesn't share their views on confrontations.

  • sex false4

    Sex: A cop and a single mother flirt and kiss. In one scene he watches her bathe, with her breasts visible during a long shot brimming with sexual tension, but it doesn't go any further.

  • language false4

    Language: Occasional swearing, including "a--hole," "Goddamn," and "f--k."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not applicable