100

Variety

By Brian Lowry
Tilling some of the same conspiracy turf he explored in "All the President's Men," Pakula has improved on Grisham's book by excising much of the detritus, crafting a taut, intelligent thriller that succeeds on almost every level.
Full Review
75

Chicago Sun-Times

By Roger Ebert
By casting attractive stars in the leads, by finding the right visual look, by underlining the action with brooding, ominously sad music, a good director can create the illusion of meaning even when nothing's there.
Full Review
70

Empire

By Angie Errigo
Much like Pakula's "Presumed Innocent", this is a solid and intelligent, if unspectacular adaptation, and just a tad tighter than The Firm to give it the edge that's needed.
Full Review
70

The New York Times

By Elvis Mitchell
The story, neatly compressed, unfolds in dependable and photogenic ways. And it is coaxed along by Mr. Pakula's considerable skills as a brisk, methodical film maker.
Full Review
50

The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

By Rick Groen
Pakula's screenplay looks to bulldoze a clear path through the narrative thickets, but this stuff is impenetrable - meant to be complicated, it's just confusing.
Full Review
50

Austin Chronicle

By Marc Savlov
Unfortunately, The Pelican Brief comes across as a prolonged bout with deja vu: you know you've seen this before, and more than once at that.
Full Review
50

TV Guide

Grisham's characters are rudimentary, and both Roberts and Washington are stiff and over-earnest.
Full Review
50

USA Today

By Mike Clark
Until its dopey coda, the film never all-out stumbles, but always exudes Pakula's trademark chilliness. [17 Dec 1993 Pg. 01.D]
Full Review
50

ReelViews

By James Berardinelli
The final result is an unnecessarily-long thriller that contains far more talking than action. Pakula's direction is lackluster, showing little of the style that permeated his two most impressive pictures, "All the President's Men" and "Presumed Innocent".
Full Review
42

Entertainment Weekly

By Ty Burr
Pakula insists that The Pelican Brief is haute cuisine, and the seriousness nearly wrecks it.
Full Review
50 out of 100
Mixed or average reviews
Metascore® based on all critic reviews. Scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.