Between bursts of automatic gunfire, the story offers a trenchant critique of capitalism.
Bruce Fretts - Entertainment Weekly
Leaves no cliche unturned; it's Old Jack City.
Elvis Mitchell - New York Times
Stereotypical, banally written bloodbath.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
This movie ... doesn't deserve the energy it takes to describe how bad it is.
Desson Thomson - Washington Post
A retread of material already thoroughly plumbed by Martin Scorsese.
Ann Hornaday - Washington Post
[Reyes] pushes his shopping cart through the ghetto-drug-flick warehouse, where all the merchandise has been picked over like a Filene's sale rack on the day after Thanksgiving.
Wesley Morris - Boston Globe
Reyes's script turns a dissection of ambition into Sleeping With the Enemy-style nonsense.
Laura Sinagra - Village Voice
The characters ... are paper-thin, and their personalities undergo radical changes when it suits the script.
Eric Harrison - Houston Chronicle
A plot this standard might work if driven by interesting acting, but the performances in Empire are flat and contrived.
Matt Weitz - Dallas Morning News
It has the right approach and the right opening premise, but it lacks the zest and it goes for a plot twist instead of trusting the material.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
Looks and feels like a low-budget hybrid of Scarface or Carlito's Way.
Robert K. Elder - Chicago Tribune
Ultimately just one more urban gangland genre flick.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
- Minneapolis Star Tribune
A standard crime drama enlivened by its sense of time, place and character.
Susan Stark - Detroit News
- Arizona Republic
A yawningly familiar melodrama about an enterprising hustler who's undone by his own ambitions.
Joe Leydon - Variety
A predictable and stereotypical little B-movie.
Lou Lumenick - New York Post
The whole enterprise feels predigested, as there isn't much here we haven't seen done before and done better.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
Yes, we're walking those mean streets again. Good thing we're taking a few unanticipated turns.
Geoff Pevere - Toronto Star
It's a grab bag of genres that don't add up to a whole lot of sense.
Rick Groen - Globe and Mail
The movie's action unfolds laboriously before us, dragged along, bumpety-bumpety, by the plodding voiceover that Leguizamo has the misfortune of delivering.
Stephanie Zacharek - Salon.com
Tries to pass off a scattered, cliched approximation of the real deal.
Michael Rechtshaffen - Hollywood Reporter
Leguizamo ... gives one of the best performances of the year in a lead role in an American movie.
Kevin Thomas - Los Angeles Times
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Cinema Crazed
Even if you haven't seen any of the tell-all television spots, every beat of this crime drama will look and sound familiar.
Michael Dequina - TheMovieReport.com
- Film Threat
You can take the homey out of the hood, but you can't take the hood out of the homey.
Thomas Delapa - Boulder Weekly
The leads make it watchable (plus it's always a hoot to see Denise Richards onscreen in any form)...
Scott Weinberg - eFilmCritic.com
None of this finds an emotional connection, and instead we watch it predictably unfold.
Mark Dujsik - Mark Reviews Movies
The film's hodgepodge plot stumbles down the prototypical path of a gangster's fall from grace with a bit of Boiler Room thrown in for good measure.
Nick Rogers - State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL)
. . .this movie has a glossy coat of action movie excess while remaining heartless at its core.
Charlie Brown - FilmStew.com
Jim Shelby - Palo Alto Weekly
Wilson Morales - BlackFilm.com
Depois de capturar a imaginacao do espectador com um inicio envolvente e promissor, a historia se perde de forma irremediavel, desperdicando o imenso potencial de seus dois primeiros atos.
Pablo Villaca - Cinema em Cena
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Andrea Chase - Killer Movie Reviews
Leigh Johnson - Hollywood.com
Moody, stylish tale of heroin dealer John Leguizamo facing the white-collar world is a well-shot debut from Franc Reyes.
James Rocchi - Netflix
Garth Franklin - Dark Horizons
Reyes has obviously seen Goodfellas 50 or 60 times.
Scott Von Doviak - Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
Scott Von Doviak - Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Unfortunately, Empire is nothing more than an exhausting retread of the same cliched urban cautionary tale that waxes about rebellion and redemption.
Frank Ochieng - Movie Eye
The film ends up being derivative of every drug-themed, drug-centered movie we've ever seen, and goes down the same dark unforgiving and predictable path as all the others did.
Michael Szymanski - Zap2it.com
There isn't a redeeming character to be found in Empire which makes it awfully hard to enjoy.
Gerry Shamray - Sun Newspapers of Cleveland
- Orlando Weekly
Try as I may, I can't think of a single good reason to see this movie, even though everyone in my group extemporaneously shouted, 'Thank you!' when Leguizamo finally plugged an irritating character late in the movie.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
What "Empire" lacks in depth it makes up for with its heart.
Robin Clifford - Reeling Reviews
A dreary rip-off of Goodfellas that serves as a muddled and offensive cautionary tale for Hispanic Americans.
Jason Anderson - eye WEEKLY
An entertaining, colorful, action-filled crime story with an intimate heart.
Chris Gore - Film Threat
Emily Blunt - Blunt Review
If it takes too many familiar steps, it is still never less than compelling as it walks the well-trod line.
Marshall Fine - Journal News (Westchester, NY)
John Leguizamo may be a dramatic actor -- just not in this movie.
Linda Cook - Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)
Filmmaker Franc Reyes would have been better off skipping the elaborate scam plot and focusing on the conflicts that arise when a dealer trades in his gold chain for an Armani suit.
Beth Jones - Roanoke Times (Virginia)
This is the most predictable plot twist since The Greatest Story Ever Told. You really know this one is coming and it just ruins the whole movie.
Richard Roeper - Ebert & Roeper
Susan Granger - www.susangranger.com
Feels like it was made by some old Bolsheviks, who, in a vodka stupor, thought they were remaking THE GODFATHER.
Steve Rhodes - Internet Reviews
The film is shoddy and amateurish; the blood in the gunfight scenes even looks like ketchup.
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
If you've spent every waking moment since the summer of 1991 pining for a 'New Jack City' with a salsa soundtrack, your cinematic savior has arrived.
Jonathan R. Perry - Tyler Morning Telegraph (Texas)
An extraordinary assemblage of filmmaking no-nos congeals into a movie that's not as bad as it deserves to be, but one nowhere near entertaining, either.
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
Like its protagonist, the movie tries to rise above convention, flails about a bit, and slides back into self-parody.
Marc Savlov - Austin Chronicle
Brian Orndorf - Modamag.com
Real problems, real people, deserve much more than the surfaces opened up in 'Empire.'
Donald J. Levit - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
- Boston Phoenix
- Deseret News, Salt Lake City
It's sort of a 21st century morality play with a Latino hip hop beat. But the second half of the movie really goes downhill.
Jamie Gillies - Apollo Guide
Empire has its visual and character attributes, but the culmination of its 90 minutes is akin to reaching out for something substantial, and coming away with nothing but thin air.
Dustin Putman - DustinPutman.com
Reyes' directorial debut has good things to offer, but ultimately it's undone by a sloppy script
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
Not atrocious, but certainly far from being as good as it might have been.
Jim Judy - Screen It!
Guns, blah, blah, blah, drugs, blah, blah, blah, guns, drugs, and money, blah, blah, blah.
John Venable - Supercala.com
Victor Rosa is Leguizamo's best movie work so far, a subtle and richly internalized performance.
David Elliott - San Diego Union-Tribune
It's deeply ordinary, depressingly shabby stuff.
Shawn Levy - Oregonian
The Empire strikes out with a lot of life lessons we already know and stuff we've all seen before.
- E! Online
Not much going on with this one. It was part Scarface, part New Jack City and part Sugarhill. If you've- seen these, you've seen Empire.
Kamal 'The Diva' Larsuel - 3BlackChicks Review
It winds up moving in many directions as it searches (vainly, I think) for something fresh to say.
Robert Denerstein - Denver Rocky Mountain News
This tale has been told and retold; the races and rackets change, but the song remains the same.
Maitland McDonagh - TV Guide's Movie Guide
John Leguizamo wastes a terrific performance on a gangster drama that would be unwatchable without him.
Jeffrey Westhoff - Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)
Empire can't make up its mind whether it wants to be a gangster flick or an art film. It doesn't work as either.
Robert W. Butler - Kansas City Star
If Arenas is making some kind of statement with its initial release, it seems to be declaring, 'We can make a dumb Goodfellas knockoff just as well as any other ethnic group.'
Glenn Whipp - Los Angeles Daily News
What you get with Empire is a movie you've seen many times before, repackaged as new material because there is a Latino in the lead.
Larry Carroll - Countingdown.com
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch
If only the story about a multi-million dollar con bothered to include the con.
Victoria Alexander - FilmsInReview.com
A mostly tired retread of several other mob tales.
Jack Garner - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Sucks all the menace out of the premise with incongruity, cuteness and -- in this case, largely unintentional -- humour.
Jim Slotek - Jam! Movies
Another excuse to trot out the usual ghetto-melodramatic bromides: What Happens When You Leave the Old Neighborhood Behind and Remembering Who Your Real Posse Is and, most of all, Respecting the Woman Who Loves You Best.
Gene Seymour - Newsday
- Baltimore Sun
Delivers the same old same old, tarted up with Latin flava and turned out by Hollywood playas.
Todd Anthony - South Florida Sun-Sentinel
You never believe for a minute that the character actor and comedian from Moulin Rouge and Summer of Sam is actually a once-ruthless drug dealer trying to go straight.
John Monaghan - Detroit Free Press
A gangster movie with the capacity to surprise.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
directed in a flashy, empty sub-music video style by a director so self-possessed he actually adds a period to his first name
Jason Clark - Premiere Magazine
There are too many predictable moments and laughable lapses in credibility to make Empire work as a crime drama with real gravity.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
Take away all the cliches and the carbon copy scenes from every drug movie we've seen and all you have left are John Leguizamo's cool jackets.
Cherryl Dawson and Leigh Ann Palone - TheMovieChicks.com
Cynthia Fuchs - Nitrate Online
Leguizamo is perfect as the streetwise yet naive Rosas, and Peter Sarsgaard and Denise Richards are convincing as morally bankrupt Manhattan socialites.
Brian Obermiller - Citysearch
Where as many films of this nature linger on the hard, the ugly, the blood, or just the stylistic; Empire focuses on the thinking, the love, and even the light-heartedness, as well as the violence.
Ross Anthony - Hollywood Report Card
There's something to be said for a movie that succeeds, though modestly, despite shortcomings that would render most other films unwatchable.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
If you want to see a classy, extremely well-done story about urban drug dealers, go home, flip on HBO and wait for them to air The Wire again.
Jon Popick - Planet Sick-Boy
The thing looks like a made-for-home-video quickie.
William Arnold - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
...shies away from fresh, provocative drama in favor of crime-movie cliches.
Josh Larsen - Sun Publications (Chicago, IL)
Unfortunately, we have been down these mean streets before, with better narrative twists and turns and greater empathy with characters who in earlier decades would be the villains.
D.K. Holm - DVDTalk.com
A witless, unoriginal mishmash of gangsta-drama cliches.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
Just a piece of flashy trash, disheartening in terms of both its empty cinematic pizzazz and its calculated amorality.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
Both poignant and wickedly amusing, Empire sets high standards for a subgenre that's rarely had any.
Ernest Hardy - L.A. Weekly
It's a grim, unenlightening affair whose quality can best be summed up with this factoid: Denise Richards is in it.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
While not a classic by any standard, writer/director Franc Reyes' debut does paint an engaging portrait of the rise and fall of Vic Rosa.
Tor Thorsen - Reel.com
A rehash of every gangster movie from the past decade.
Paul Doro - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
It's not a bad plot; but, unfortunately, the movie is nowhere near as refined as all the classic dramas it borrows from.
Amit Asaravala - Filmcritic.com
...familiar and predictable, and 4/5ths of it might as well have come from a Xerox machine rather than (writer-director) Franc. Reyes' word processor.
Rob Blackwelder - SPLICEDWire
Too clumsy and vulgar a melodrama to be viewed as a calculated piece of racism, but its obtuse unawareness doesn't excuse it.
Chuck Rudolph - Slant Magazine
Compellingly reinforces the adage, 'Never forget where you came from.'
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
Victor is great character, played with macho zeal by Leguizamo.
Annlee Ellingson - Boxoffice Magazine
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com