In the view of Indiewire's Anne Thompson, Conviction has brought Sam Rockwell "the role of his career, playing the real-life rebellious and volatile Kenny Waters, who grew up neglected and abused and ended up with a murder conviction, in prison for life. His sister, Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank), finished high school, put herself through college and law school, over eighteen years, in order to figure out a way to prove that he was innocent of the crime.
"Rockwell shows us how this guy feels -- angry, hopeful, despairing, suicidal, never sure if it will work out, hanging onto his sister to deliver his freedom. It's tough, real, upsetting stuff."
Wells response: Put this idea out of your head right now! "Rockwell delivers his usual cut-up performance, playing the doofus-yokel brother who's indifferent to authority or caution or...I don't know what the character's problem is, and I don't care that much either," I wrote on 9.30. "I do know that when you hire Sam Rockwell you're going to get one of his head-scratchy, soft-shoe-shuffle performances that are mainly about how hip-weird and hip-dorky he can be if the director doesn't tell him to get down and focus his ass and stop hacking around."