The Film Stage
The cancer-diagnosis plot device is certainly well-worn and can often be viciously maudlin, but Haley does well in utilizing it as a means to work on something a bit more nuanced.
The Hero feels looser, more abstract, and more symbolically ambitious than the winsome “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” and at times you wish for a bit more narrative rigor. But it’s nonetheless a resonant depiction of a man fearlessly reckoning with his life, his image and, most importantly, his heart.
The Hollywood Reporter
Luckily, Elliott succeeds in pulling you into Lee's emotional orbit and holding you there even when the movie falters.
With Elliott front and center of every scene, The Hero pulls off the kind of acting showcase that its fictional star can never achieve.
Brett Haley’s film captures Elliott in all his majesty, his twinkle dimming as he casts his eyes out over the mountains beyond his house or the rocky beach down the hill.
We Got This Covered
Anchored by a top-notch performance from its lead, The Hero surpasses its cliches and becomes an ideal vehicle for its star. In Sam Elliot we trust.
The A.V. Club
A film that generously gives Elliott one of the few lead roles of his lengthy career, but mostly asks him to embody clichés, without providing any sense of how he might improve upon them.
Haley and Basch have mistaken what the AARP calls “movies for grownups” for a kind of mushy feel-good pablum, throwing together a handful of familiar clichés in the hope that Elliott’s charm will carry the day.
Sam Elliott’s calmly affecting performance is overwhelmed by a doggedly conventional screenplay that often plays like end-of-life wish-fulfillment fantasy.
It’s as if Haley viewed his star’s strengths — laconic wit, unforced masculinity, polite romanticism — as the only elements needed for a Sam Elliott showcase, rather than as the building blocks from which to mold an original character.