Reviews for Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon are live, and they are glowing, to say the least.
The legendary filmmaker is back with another historical epic, this time tackling a series of murders within the Osage tribe in 1920s Oklahoma after oil is found on indigenous land.
The movie is based on the beloved 2017 book of the same name by David Grann and stars the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone.
Coming from Apple Studios, Killers of the Flower Moon has the longest runtime of any theatrically released film in Scorsese’s illustrious career.
Killers of the Flower Moon Gets Glowing Reviews
Critics shared their strong reactions to the Martin Scorsese-directed Killers of the Flowers Moon in anticipation of the film's theatrical debut.
Scorsese's latest blockbuster has been Certified Fresh on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, sitting at 95% on the platform. The general consensus is that Killers of the Flower Moon is a sweeping epic with many praising its scale, sobering themes, and stellar performances.
David Crow from Den of Geek remarked in his review Robert De Niro's William Hale may be "the most vile creation ever realized by an actor who’s also played Al Capone and Jimmy Conway:"
“William Hale might even be the most vile creation ever realized by an actor who’s also played Al Capone and Jimmy Conway… While Hale might be the culmination of 'Killers of the Flower Moon’s' conspiracy, he is just one thread in a larger national tapestry of pitiless conquest… Even though the film is told through the eyes of the killers, the movie has the grace to end on the Osage themselves… Scorsese sees both sides, but it’s obvious which he hopes will carry forward.”
YouTuber Zach Pope heaped praise upon the film, calling it an example of "why Scorsese is the best director to ever live:"
“Showcases why Scorsese is the best director to ever live. Delicately crafted to retell the tragic Osage Murders but give a glimpse into what Greed, Power, and corruption bring. A cinematic masterpiece that will be studied for years to come. Speechless”
ScreenAnarchy's Shelagh Rown-Legg described Killers as "unflinching, honest, sweeping, intelligent, and necessary:"
“'Killers of the Flower Moon' is the one of the best of Scorsese’s filmography - unflinching, honest, sweeping, intelligent, and necessary.”
Chris Bumbray of JoBlo's Movie Network was just as positive, pointing to Leonardo DiCaprio's starring performance as "One of [his] most complex:"
“Absolutely ranks alongside Martin Scorsese’s masterpieces. One of DiCaprio’s most complex performances.”
DiCaprio and De Niro both "[flirt] with characters they have played before, now bring even greater depth" and "humor as sharp as their sadness," according to The Movie Minute's Joanna Lanfield:
“You will hardly be able to take your eyes away from Lily Gladstone, but you won’t want to miss a second of what Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro are doing. Both men, flirting with characters they have played before, now bring even greater depth and, often, humor as sharp as their sadness. How lucky are we to get to watch all of these creative people, coming together, at the top of their game.”
Julian Roman from Movie Web said the movie "immerses you in a seedy world of good old boy corruption, death, and deceit:"
“'Killers of the Flower Moon' immerses you in a seedy world of good old boy corruption, death, and deceit. Scorsese’s trademark visual flair and sharp editing highlights a methodical storyline that fatigues from lack of mystery.”
Reeling Review's Laura Clifford opined the film almost feels like "binging a prestige HBO limited series" than watching a movie:
“… In witnessing those murders – abrupt, violent and brutal – and in a paddling scene that oddly feels like a man being made in the mafia, that we most recognize Scorsese’s auteurship here, his lengthy period film often feeling more like binging a prestige HBO limited series.”
Dan Scully from Scullyvision called it "equal parts thrilling, educational, and dramatic:"
“It’s equal parts thrilling, educational, and dramatic, and there’s always room for bits of comedy to shine through… ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ is equal parts family drama, organized crime movie, police procedural, courtroom drama, and historical epic. One could take the somewhat defensible position that this is Scorsese playing the hits, but it would be an unfair and reductive angle that dismisses how well all of it is synthesized.”
Native Viewpoint's Vincent Schilling noted that "as a Native American" he " absolutely loved this film," praising its bringing of "the reality of this ugly history to light:"
“As a Native American, and as a critic in general, I absolutely loved this film… Some moments were horrible and agonizing to watch, not because the film was horrible or agonizing, but because Scorsese brought the reality of this ugly history to light. I am so incredibly grateful for that.”
Robert Kojder (The Spool) conveyed his shock that "at 80 years old, Martin Scorsese continues to evolve his previous narratives and storytelling tactics:"
“At 80 years old, Martin Scorsese continues to evolve his previous narratives and storytelling tactics, implementing new imaginative tricks and putting out exquisite, scintillating work once again with some of his most trusted collaborators, in front of and behind the camera. I sincerely hope he has one more in, but if not, what a hell of a way to go out with this scalding, haunting, unflinching condemnation of America’s past that is still relevant today.”
Despite Killer of the Flower Moon's three-and-a-half-hour runtime Victoria Alexander from AlexanderFilmsInReview.com said, "The film’s length should be praised instead of criticized:”
“Scorsese intentionally strips the film of any traces of his style. It appears that DiCaprio structured his performance to show his character suffered being evil. The film’s length should be praised instead of criticized.”
San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle gave the movie the superlative of "a bladder-buster of a movie" with no "obvious bathroom break, [or] section where the story starts to sag:"
“Martin Scorsese’s 'Killers of the Flower Moon' is a bladder-buster of a movie with no obvious bathroom break, no section where the story starts to sag. This makes it, almost by definition, a good and admirable piece of work. But 'Killers of the Flower Moon' is also a lumbering mess, an ungainly and tonally odd film that, for all the strength of its parts, has little cumulative impact. Scorsese had ambitions to make a great American epic about the exploitation of Indigenous people, but he somehow ended up with a tawdry crime story, stretched to three and a half hours.”
Wenlai Ma from PerthNow praised Scorsese for his ability to "conjure a fully fleshed-out world of compelling people and a lived-in place," but spotlighted some may "have the patience to be won over by [the film]:"
“That’s Scorsese’s mastery. He can conjure a fully fleshed-out world of compelling people and a lived-in place and demand you immerse yourself in it, even when it feels dirty (ahem, Wolf of Wall Street). Not everyone will have the patience to be won over by 'Killers of the Flower Moon,' but those people have the speedy distractions of TikTok.”
The Australian's Stephen Romei called attention to DiCaprio and De Niro's performances off of one another, wishing "the cinematic gods had intervened to make them work together more often:"
“Every moment Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro share the screen will make you wish the cinematic gods had intervened to make them work together more often.”
One of the few negative reviews came from Beyond the Trailer's Grace Randolph, who lambasted the film for providing "almost no context [for its story] making the film a frustrating watch that offers more questions than answers:"
“Less 'Goodfellas,' more 'Gangs of New York'... Martin Scorsese and co-writer Eric Roth assume the audience already knows so much about this true story, there is almost no context making the film a frustrating watch that offers more questions than answers.”
What to Expect from Killers of the Flower Moon?
Looking at the glowing reviews for Killer of the Flower Moon, audiences should expect another cinematic marvel from one of the most celebrated filmmakers of all time.
Long movies are a massive deterrent for some, but if a film's momentum can keep the audience engaged for well over three hours, then potential fatigue never has the time to set in.
And Killers of the Flower Moon seems to have it that in spades.
After nearly 60 years working in Hollywood, Scorsese looks to still have some powder left in the chamber, as this marks his second-straight feature film to hit at least 95% on Rotten Tomatoes (after 2019's The Irishmen).
With 27 total feature-length projects under his belt, Killers of the Flower Moon seems like it has the critical juice to be an awards season juggernaut, potentially leading the iconic auteur to - what would be - only his second-ever Best Picture Academy Award win (after previously winning for 2006's The Departed).
Killers of the Flower Moon comes to theaters on Friday October 20.