Mississippi Burning


Action / Crime / Drama / History / Mystery / Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 89%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 90%
IMDb Rating 7.8 10 73811


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Frances McDormand as Mrs. Pell
Michael Rooker as Frank Bailey
Willem Dafoe as Agent Alan Ward
Brad Dourif as Deputy Clinton Pell
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
875.41 MB
23.976 fps
2hr 8 min
P/S 4 / 34
1.95 GB
23.976 fps
2hr 8 min
P/S 3 / 48

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by DaRick89 9 / 10

Imperfect but nonetheless powerful and even essential viewing

Mississippi Burning has cultivated a well-deserved reputation as a powerful but nonetheless imperfect film. It is powerful not only because of the emotionally charged topic (civil rights and racism) but also due to some effective acting, strong characterisations and also a shudder of drama and tension throughout. However, it is imperfect because it is slightly overlong, somewhat historically inaccurate (the FBI's role in promoting civil rights was far more ambiguous than portrayed here) and even clichéd at times. Luckily, the film does neither abuses those clichés nor plays them entirely straight, allowing the film to retain its impact after many years.

The film's power and tension is conveyed even during the very first scenes. The car chase is unnerving and the murders themselves are even moreso, with the merest splatter of blood hinting at the violence which occurred. Not a single moment is wasted on unnecessary blood and gore, which would otherwise have been unfitting for a historical drama like Mississippi Burning.

Tension in the film is built even more effectively by intertwining the more sedate scenes with conflict and even outright violence. For example, Agent Anderson's quiet dialogues with the deputy sheriff's wife are punctuated by churches blowing up and arguments between Agent Anderson and Agent Ward.

Speaking of Agent Anderson and Agent Ward, their characterisations are quite strong, in that the film provides a substantial backstory explaining their involvement and motivations (particularly Anderson) but also somewhat clichéd. This is because they both represent the perennial conflict between the renegade hero (Anderson) and the by- the-book, obstructive police chief (Ward). These roles are subverted though because Anderson sometimes does call Ward out for not properly following procedure, while unlike most police chiefs Ward knows exactly who the enemy is and does not resort to dramatics as readily as your average police chief type.

The characterisations of the supporting cast are predictably less substantial. Much insight is provided into the wife's reasons for sticking with an obviously unpleasant husband, but the villains are broadly painted as hateful racists. The reason is likely to make it easier for the audience to oppose them and on that level such broad, simplistic characterisations work well.

In addition, such characterisations do not necessarily prevent the actors from providing good performances. Brad Dourif does well representing your average bully; able to beat up on weaker people but impotent against a powerful adversary. Michael Rooker is even better; his Frank Bailey is comfortably the nastiest, most menacing character in the film, with none of the blustering of Stephen Tobolowsky's character. Tobolowsky's character is suitably provincial but was he really meant to be that blustering? R. Lee Ermey, Gailard Sartain and Pruitt Taylor Vince basically play good ol' Southern boys, with Ermey infusing a little Sergeant Hartman into his performance when he argues with Ward.

On the other side of the coin, Willem Dafoe is cool, clinical and professional, while Frances McDormand plays the beleaguered housewife very well. However, it is really Gene Hackman who steals the show. Jocular one moment to physically violent the next, every scene with him is essential viewing because he raises the tension and drama. Badja Djola also warrants a mention, for his character veritably oozes hatred and menace.

The dialogue is suitably provincial, with some rather zany lines ("cornhole ******?"). The plot plays much like a standard cop drama, with police being required to solve a mystery. Luckily, such a premise is exploited for maximum value, not only because of the tension and drama, but also because of the high stakes (freedom for a hitherto oppressed people).

Ultimately, Mississippi Burning has its clichés and historical distortions, but ultimately the acting, characterisations, drama and tension make for a potent film and essential viewing.

4.5/5 stars

Reviewed by DeuceWild_77 9 / 10

"When America was at war with itself..." - a gripping & engaging experience !!

One year after his misunderstood masterpiece, "Angel Heart", the English director Alan Parker returns to the South for filming "Mississippi Burning", a crime / thriller drama about 2 F.B.I. agents sent to Jessup County, Mississippi in 1964 to investigate the disappearance of 3 civil rights activists.

Led by the younger agent, Alan Ward (Willem Dafoe), a yankee 'crusader' and a symbol of Kennedy's administration, who follow the Bureau's rules by the book & his older and savvy partner, Rupert Anderson (Gene Hackman), a former Mississippi Sheriff, who knows the behavior, mentality, traditions & way of life of his fellow countrymen. When they suspect that the Ku Klux Klan may be operating there and responsible for the disappearance of the 3 activists with the support of the local law, Ward & Anderson start a war against the "phantom' killers in searching for the truth, clashing with the town people that don't want them there...

Superbly directed motion picture from an engaging screenplay penned by Chris Gerolmo, based on actual facts and visually stunning, shot by the cinematographer Peter Biziou, who won a well deserved Academy Award, "Mississippi Burning" is a gritty, realistic & sweaty movie experience, filmed on location near where the actual murders took place with even some scenes shot in a documentary style which enhanced the straight tone of the film.

It moves at a thrilling pace, involving the viewer in the sordid ways of racism at his worst, stereotyping that (almost) all of the white southern characters are evil and preaches the audience about the innocent victims of the intolerance and the deserved punishment of their executioners, guided by the eyes of two different lawmen, the liberal moralist - Willem Dafoe and the conservative 'vigilante' , Gene Hackman.

Hackman delivers maybe his best performance since his brilliant turn in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Conversation" ('74), he's determined, reckless & sarcastic, showy, but commanding the screen with gravitas proving why he's one of the best (still sadly, underrated) north American actors ever. Willem Dafoe, fresh from his Academy Award nomination for "Platoon", co-stars in a less prominent role, but equal effective, especially in his "boy scout" antagonism with the Hackman character. Frances McDormand, who scored a nomination for Best Supporting Actress, is the stand-out / revelation as the disgruntled & fragile wife of the local Deputy. She shines in a role that could have been underplayed if performed by a less capable actress. The supporting players are top notch (kudos to the casting department & Parker's skillful direction of actors) from the always remarkable as the hateful 'usual suspects": Brad Dourif & Michael Rooker to R. Lee Ermey; Gailard Sartain; Badja Djola in an intense cameo appearance; Tobin Bell, making here his feature film debut, years before his breakthrough role in the "Saw" franchise and Stephen Tobolowsky, among others.

In short, "Mississippi Burning" was one of the best films of 1988, nominated for 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director & Best Leading Actor for Hackman, winning 1 and perhaps only lost the Best Picture Oscar, due to the Academy's emotional vote in favor of Barry Levinson's sympathetic drama, "Rain Man".

Highly recommended !!

Reviewed by pmassey-23533 9 / 10

Excellent insight into race relations in the deep south

This film involves the investigation of the disappearance of three civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1967.

Dafoe plays the straight man from the FBI, He does everything by the book. But he doesn't get far. His investigation is blocked every step of the way by the locals, including law enforcement and the KKK. Clearly these Southern boys don't appreciate these 'bleeding heart liberals' coming down from the North and telling them how to 'treat their coloured folk'...

The Gene Hackman comes along. He's another lawman, but with a more radical approach to investigation...Hackman's character is quite happy to do whatever it takes to achieve the desired objective including beating, threatening and intimidating witnesses and suspects.

This approach is more successful...

But will it prevail, in the face of opposition from (almost) the entire town?

As usual, Dafoe is brilliant, and Hackman, of course never puts a foot wrong. He must have a really good agent, because I have never seen him act badly or be in a bad film. In fact his only mistake in his entire career seems to have been dental in nature...surely someone should tell these guys that 70 year olds do not have perfect, straight white teeth...

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