Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
This episodic drama is set in Dallas during the three days after the JFK assassination, and some of it is highly charged.
New York Post:
Takes one of the most traumatizing events of the American 20th century and turns it into a trivia digest.
A collection of powerful scenes that somehow add up to something less than powerful.
As vicarious, you-are-there re-creations of historical events go, it's creditably workmanlike; whether that's the best use of the dream factory is another matter.
It's a worthy film, well shot, well told, but told at a remove. This is understandable, given what Landesman is trying to do.
Peter Landesman's well-made but dramatically unfocused re-creation of that November day and its aftermath ...
All we learn is that this happened and then this and then this -- the movie is like a multimillion-dollar grade-school play.
The minidramas on display, in the hospital or in the anguish of Zapruder's accidental chronicling of a horror, dart this way and that, inconclusively.
Dallas Morning News:
There are 8 million stories in this naked tragedy. Parkland is content to tell parts of some of them.
For those who remember that dark day, it will inevitably have impact. But this was too much of a story for one film.
A relatively watchable film that needed a bit more connective tissue.
The film is otherwise engrossing, quietly revelatory, and often profoundly moving as it retells a story we only thought we knew.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy, as seen through the eyes of bystanders, insiders and other players.
Kennedy specialists will glean nothing new, and those hoping for sobriety will flinch at the camera's intrusions.
I can see this film being shown in high school, as a way to fill up two-or-three periods. But I can't see anyone wanting to see it on their own. Especially if they already lived through it once.
Somehow, all this commotion adds up to aimless inertia, in part because the movie lacks a point of view - let alone anything fresh to propose about the assassination or its peripheral players.
New York Daily News:
The movie winds up telling us far more about our own time than the nation-changing event that it depicts.
Orange County Register:
This star-studded docudrama about President Kennedy's assassination and its aftermath focuses on fascinating, relatively obscure stories, but fails to organize them into effective and revealing drama.
[Parkland] might have made for a stirring documentary. Instead, first-time director Peter Landesman opts to treat history as a parade of cameos from the famous and not-so-famous.
San Francisco Chronicle:
There's something to be said for Landesman's attempt to limit himself to just the facts that we can all agree on. Just that much is dramatic enough and awful enough to make for a good movie.
Fifty years after the traumatic event, the assassination of JFK is still capable of touching a raw nerve -- even in a dramatization as flat-footed as this one.
Once Kennedy is pronounced dead, "Parkland" goes downhill fast, with a tone of TV-movie solemnity, epitomized by James Newton Howard's heavy-handed score, taking over.
Peter Landesman's bland Parkland approaches history by way of mediocrity.
While this cast and this story could easily have filled, say, a ten-hour HBO miniseries, this 93-minute film too often feels like a blink-and-you'll-miss-em affair.
The tone never stops waffling, and nothing truly revelatory ever emerges about those terrible few days in Texas. What we're left with is the Disney theme-park version of history-all waxworks and weepiness.
The events of those days would have been better covered in greater depth in a miniseries, rather than a 90-minute movie.
Methodically and with generally unfailing good restraint, Landesman re-creates the grief surrounding the crime and the confusion of Oswald's capture and subsequent murder.