Time Out London
Reiner captures just the right level of physical tension, but for the most part wisely emphasises the mental duels. Terrific.
The actors are supported by the best kind of writerly craft and directorial technique, the kind that refuses to call attention to itself, never gets caught straining for scares or laughs. Popular moviemaking -- elegantly economical, artlessly artful -- doesn't get much better than this.
The movie has a real kick to it. As Paul and Annie attempt to outsmart each other, Misery gets nastier and nastier. It turns into a psychotic cat-and-mouse game, and there are some genuine shocks.
Reiner’s film, the perfect 90-minuter, is sometimes a little stretched at 107 minutes. Nevertheless it maintains its tension well, plays enough tricks on us so that we don’t ever treat anything quite seriously and Goldman’s script has enough good lines and situations to keep one interested in exactly what is coming next.
There are a few holes in the plot, mainly towards the end, but from start to harrowing finish, it is blissfully apparent that Rob Reiner can indeed turn his hand to virtually anything.
Casting of Caan is effective, as his snide remarks and grumpy attittude are backed up by a physical dimension that makes believable his inevitable fighting back. Bates had a field day with her role, creating a quirky, memorable object of hate.
It is a good story, a natural, and it grabs us. But just as there is almost no way to screw it up, so there's hardly any way to bring it above a certain level of inspiration.
The New York Times
It seems to want to be a Hitchcockian kind of cat-and-mouse suspense melodrama, which demands a lot more ingenuity than Mr. Reiner or Mr. Goldman ever muster. Misery is just good enough that one wishes it were far better. The ideas are there, but they become lost in the heavy-handed treatment.
The economy of both script and direction is admirable—there's no wasted motion in sight—though the film's anthology of genre cliches ultimately undermines Bates's heroic efforts to make it something more.
A weak handshake of a movie, it is slightly repellent -- hardly gripping, much less knuckle-whitening. This "Psycho" for fatsos is as self-aware as it is styleless.