There are moments here that are so distinct in emotional timber it's as if they were directed by someone who'd skipped the last two decades of American genre film and opted to get back to basics -- like character, and the ways in which two actors can sit in a smoke-filled car and turn an everyday conversation into art.
It's hard to think of another American film with this range of moods: satirical, sometimes hilarious, yet suffused with a sense of loss and riddled with the kind of violence that makes you recoil and lean forward simultaneously.
Rick GroenThe Globe and Mail (Toronto)
What better casting than Al Pacino, whose own career, of course, has reflected all the seasonal changes in the gangster saga. Pacino takes the part and runs with it so boldly that he ends up in Arthur Miller land.
David SterrittChristian Science Monitor
This sort of story has been told many times before, but thoughtful performances by Al Pacino and Johnny Depp make it more engrossing than expected.
Lisa AlspectorChicago Reader
Depp conveys his character's ambivalence and ambiguity with utter conviction, and though the annoying score tries to throw Pacino's monologues over the top, his persuasive, low-key performance puts the violins in their place.
Because the filmmakers have skewed the story into a Donnie-Lefty lovefest, the breakage of their trust signals the breakage of Donnie's spirit even in triumph. Case closed. It's the kind of fade-out we might expect from the it's-all-hopeless era of '60s counterculture movies. It's emotionally effective, but also a cheat.