Terry Noonan returns home to New York's Hells Kitchen after a ten year absence. He soon hooks up with childhood pal Jackie who is involved in the Irish mob run by his brother Frankie. Terry... See full summary »
Chicago crime kid Mick O'Brien (Sean Penn) has been sent to a juvenile prison for vehicular manslaughter. Most unfortunately, the person he kills is the kid brother of his nemesis Paco Moreno (Esai Morales), who vows revenge by raping Mick's girlfriend (Ally Sheedy). Paco is caught and sent to the same prison where he reworks his revenge plan, and Mick has no choice but to defend himself. Written by
I recently saw this movie again (on video, not the uncut DVD). I hadn't seen it in about twenty years, but it affected me the same at 35 as it did when I saw it on cable at 14. It is one of the grittiest, rawest movies I have ever seen, and it works on a visceral level. The performances of Sean Penn and Esai Morales in this film go to show why they have both continued to be two of the hardest working actors in Hollywood. After seeing Penn as Jeff Spiccolli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," I was amazed by his range in this film (although he was excellent in "Racing With the Moon," which if memory serves me right also came out around this time). Morales took what could have been a one-note role and turned it into a caricature of a revenge-bent punk, but his talent even back then was clear that he was up to the challenge of putting emotion into the role and bringing some sympathy to Paco's plight. Clancy Brown and Ally Sheedy were excellent in their roles as well.
The movie worked not just because the acting was great, but because the story moved along at an exciting pace. It was suspenseful and was not overly cliché or pat. Overall, it was an unforgettable movie experience, a strong cautionary tale that still makes people think.
36 of 41 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?