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A Journal For Jordan Reviews Are Up, Check Out What Critics Are Saying About The Denzel Washington Movie

Michael B. Jordan and Chanté Adams play First Sergeant Charles Monroe King and Dana Canedy in A Journal For Jordan.
(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

In his fourth directorial effort, Denzel Washington has tackled the true and tragic story of First Sergeant Charles Monroe King, who died while serving his country in Iraq. A Journal For Jordan was adapted from the New York Times Bestseller of the same name, written by King’s widow Dana Canedy, and stars Michael B. Jordan as the war hero, who kept a journal while serving in the Iraq War to give his newborn son. 

As heart-breaking as the true story is, the movie A Journal For Jordan appears to focus on the love story this family shared — the trailer already had us reaching for the tissues — so let’s take a look at what the critics had to say

Starting with the CinemaBlend review, Sarah El-Mahmoud gave A Journal For Jordan 3 out of 5 stars, saying the two-and-a-half-hour movie could have benefited from a little editing. The movie definitely takes advantage of Michael B. Jordan’s former Sexiest Man Alive title, and leans on the charm of Jordan and Chanté Adams, who plays Dana. A lot of time was spent on Dana and Charles’ early romance, but the film was strongest when it focused on their son Jordan. The importance of Dana’s perspective, however, becomes apparent in the third act.

The movie finds a powerful stride in the third act with the push and pull between Charles being on tour and Dana's pregnancy, which creates a palpable tension in the story. In these sequences, A Jordan For Jordan truly becomes the movie it wants to be, and makes best use of Dana being at the center of the tale. Many tragic war stories are told on the front lines, but this one illustrates the impact that being a soldier in the Iraq War had on its families back home, and it has a substantial message about taking advantage of the precious time we have with our loved ones and leaving a lasting legacy to pass on to the next generation. 

Robert Kojder of Flickering Myth, who rated the film 2 stars, agreed that Jordan (the fatherless teen son played by Jalon Christian) was underutilized and that the film relies heavily — perhaps too heavily — on the wish fulfillment of making Charles Monroe King the perfect boyfriend.

Most of the time, A Journal for Jordan feels like a Hallmark romance with a few laughs here and there from the chemistry between Michael B. Jordan and Chanté Adams [and] the opposing personalities of their characters (another element that doesn’t even scratch the surface, which is embarrassing considering the inherently political nature of a romantic relationship between an Army Sergeant and a journalist). If anything, it’s 2+ hours of Michael B. Jordan depicted as the most respectful, gentlemanly, polite, perfect boyfriend in existence (which I’m sure might entertain some people not necessarily looking for anything challenging here), which comes across as overkill. 

Kate Erbland of IndieWire graded the movie a C-, saying that for a story that was supposed to be about a father’s journal to his son, it so desperately wanted to be something else. And while Michael B. Jordan and Chanté Adams are great actors, their chemistry didn’t come across on-screen strong enough to hold the movie.

Instead of getting an inspirational story of a father and his love for his son, A Journal for Jordan delivers about 90 minutes of flat romantic dramedy, all focused on two people who are criminally ill-suited for each other (both in terms of the casting — Jordan and Adams are very talented, but these two do not have chemistry at all — and the characters themselves). 

Roger Moore of Movie Nation gave A Journal For Jordan 2 stars out of 4. And while Moore found the same faults as the above critics, he applauded the emotional ending, lamenting that the movie should have had more of those moments and saying it might fool viewers into thinking the film was better than it was.

It’s an ungainly film that loses focus time and again, drifting off to indulge its stars with extraneous scenes and badly-handled or simply unnecessary story threads. That makes it play longer than its two hour and 11 minute runtime, and makes it that rarest of movie ‘unicorns' — a misstep by director Denzel Washington. Whatever the messaging and emphasis of the memoir it’s based on, the movie reaching theaters needed a serious re-edit.

A Journal For Jordan was written by Virgil Williams and is set to hit theaters on Christmas Day. Be sure to also take a look at our 2022 Movie Release Schedule to start planning your outings for next year.

Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.