State of Grace (1990) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
131 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Brutal and gritty gangster flick - hugely underrated!
The_Void2 March 2006
I'm shocked that I've been a film fan for many years, and have only just seen this gem! In a world where The Godfather and Goodfellas are at the top of most people's lists of favourites, it's hard to believe that a film as strong as State of Grace could be so criminally under seen. The film is about love, friendship and betrayal; and takes place in New York's infamous Hell's Kitchen. The fact that it was released in the same year as Martin Scorsese's more acclaimed 'Goodfellas' probably didn't do it many favours; but if you ask me, this is the better film. Boasting a strong cast, director Phil Joanou's film follows Irish-American Terry Noonan as he returns home after an absence of ten years. He soon hooks up with his old friends, including Jackie and his brother Frankie; who is now the head of the Irish mafia. However, it doesn't take long before Terry's rekindled relationship with his old friends and his new loyalties to another party become at odds with one another, and our hero soon finds himself torn between the two.

State of Grace has all the violence, foul language and hot-headed characters that are part and parcel of this sort of film; but at its core is a very well worked plot, bolstered by some great characterisation. The characters are the main focus point in this film, and it's through their motivations that the plot is allowed to move. A film that puts so much focus on its characters needs a strong cast in order to work, and this film certainly has that. Sean Penn takes the lead role and delivers an early version of the strong lead performance that would go on to earn him high praise from the critics. He is supported by the underrated Ed Harris, who grows on me more and more every time I see him, in the film's most level-headed role - but the real star of the show is Gary Oldman. This actor has the ability to completely steal any film that he's in, and he really does stand out here; delivering what is surely one of his all-time best performances. Familiar faces such as John Turturro, John C. Reilly and Robin Wright Penn do well; but it's the main trio that take home all the acting plaudits. Hell's Kitchen is beautifully brought to the screen in the most downtrodden manner possible, and the music and atmosphere combine with the shockingly realistic violence to ensure that the film is always gritty and unrelenting. State of Grace comes with high recommendations.
71 out of 87 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Electrifying portrait of one man's battle with his own demons.
Bladerunner•7 April 2007
Once in a while a movie comes along that is a gift for an actor. It is like a golden opportunity that has been given to them, but there is a catch… they have to deliver. Three actors were given that opportunity in State of Grace: Ed Harris, Gary Oldman and Sean Penn. All three deliver performances that easily merit a Best Actor Oscar, but it is the chemistry between Penn and Oldman that issue forth true gold. Oldman completely and utterly loses himself in the role of Jackie Flannery, a small-time Irish gangster that happens to be the younger, impulsive, reckless brother of the head boss of the Irish mob in Hell's Kitchen, Frank Flannery. Frank is brokering a deal with the Italian Cosa Nostra that will result in a major windfall of money and power for the much smaller gang of Irish mobsters. Frank is one of the only people who seems to understand how important this deal is, while the rest of the gang bristles against the direction of the much more powerful and organized Mafia. Every time it looks like the deal will go through, some member of Frank's gang does something stupid to insult the Italians, and each time this happens Frank is called upon (by the Italians) to do their retribution upon his own people.

In the midst of this very dangerous situation enters Terry Noonan (Sean Penn), Jackie's best friend from childhood who is now a cop and undercover with the directive to do no less than take down Frank's entire gang. In the beginning Terry seems eager to do his job, but as the reality of what he must do comes crashing down he is torn between his love for his old friend, and his duty as a policeman. This is further complicated by the fact that Jackie's sister Kathleen (Robin Wright Penn) and Terry were childhood sweethearts. As Terry renews his relationship with both Jackie and Kathleen he begins to lose his identity and his soul as he is torn apart by the things he must do as a policeman, what he sees being done by Frank and his gang, and his deepening relationship with Kathleen.

Oldman delivers an explosive performance and he seems to become even more unhinged and unpredictable each moment that he and Penn spend together. The true beauty of his performance is the fact that we know how intelligent Oldman is; yet he is totally believable as this half-witted madman who is rushing towards his own demise. It is Penn though that has the heavy lifting to do, because he doesn't have the luxury of hiding behind the frenetic machinations that Oldman's character does. You actually feel pain as you watch Terry get in deeper and deeper, drinking more and more, sleeping less and less, losing his direction and his mind.

The music by Ennio Morricone is haunting, brooding and electrifying; perfectly suited to the evolving story on screen. As we watch Terry betray his friends and himself, it seems as if pieces of him actually float away, carried on the wings of Morricone's music. Robin Wright Penn also delivers as a young woman who is desperately trying to escape the mean streets of the Kitchen, the violent world of her brothers, and her meager upbringing. She also underestimated what being with Terry would mean, especially after learning Terry's true identity. She is sucked back into what she has tried so hard to become free of, and must watch as her family and Terry disintegrates.

The entire movie is set upon a collision course between Terry and Frank, and when they finally collide, director Phil Joanou films it almost like a dream sequence. The power of this film is how it manages to so vividly portray one man's attempt to finally confront his past and his own character flaws. All of us have demons and we promise and strive to finally confront them, but do we ever? Facing our fears is one thing, but the true measure of a person's character is how we perform when that fear stares into us, face to face. Here, Terry comes full circle and finally confronts the demons of his youth, and the showdown might cost his life.

Watch this film for the terrific performances of all the lead actors, for the fantastic music, the frenetic action, and the moving drama, but watch it also to ask yourself, what are your demons, when will you finally face them and what will happen when you do?
49 out of 54 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Another SEVERELY Overlooked Film
studiojudio14 July 1999
Aside from being a great, dark film, with a substantial plot line and a GIANT cast (Oldman, Penn, and Harris), this is an Oldman performance not to be believed. Mr. Oldman himself has been quoted as saying that "State of Grace" is HIS favourite performance. And, as usual, he gives a performance to be equalled by none.

Sean Penn is marvelous, too, and Harris portrays evil incarnate.

This film should be re-evaluated, and Gary Oldman should have received the Oscar for it. His portrayal of Jackie Flannery, a wild, violent young gangster with an ethereal tender streak - is simply phenomenal.
91 out of 106 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of the best. And DeNiro's not in it.
Mr Parker30 July 1999
Simply put, this movie is perfect. I live in NYC and the general air of it is caught perfectly on film. The people, the places, everything. I especially like the bluish tint used over a lot of the film. It definitely adds to the mood. The performances are incredible, even Burgess Meredith in the couple of minutes that he has onscreen. Sean Penn and Ed Harris together create an unbelievable amount of tension. I have to give them both kudos and especially Robin Wright, who turns in an excellent performance as the frustrated love interest who's connection to the life follows her no matter how far uptown she moves. No surprise when I say that Gary Oldman takes the cake for this one. He manages to outshine everyone around him, just like he did in the Professional. His performance is the driving force behind this movie and it is worth watching just to catch this legend in the making in one of his earlier roles. I cannot find one flaw in this movie and the slow motion finale is among the top five ending sequences ever. Every viewing reveals something else, something to make you appreciate this film even more. Catch this one if you haven't seen it, you won't be disappointed. My only regret is that I didn't see it while it was in theatrical release. One of the best gangster flicks, period. Rating: ***** out of *****.
47 out of 63 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Is there ANYTHING Gary Oldman can't do?
fowler17 August 2000
.....up to and maybe including walk on water? Oldman is so utterly and completely Jackie Flannery in this film, you might be tempted to dismiss his performance as 'playing to type'. Until you see this inspired chameleon's other work, where he IS Lee Harvey Oswald or TRUE ROMANCE's Drexl or Joe Orton or - tell you what, YOU pick the role. Oldman inhales, and the character he's portraying exhales. (And this is not to shortshrift the incredible work offered by Penn, Harris, Wright, Reilly and the rest of this film's ensemble.) It's disgraceful that Hollywood can't think of anything better to do with this brilliant and courageous actor these days than 'villain roles' in big-budget comic books like LOST IN SPACE, but when he's working with material commensurate to his skill, he's without peer. When an actor pushes himself like this, takes risks like this, you become aware that there can be no nobler profession. Gary Oldman may not be 'box office', and now and then he may even crash and burn...but when he flies, he soars higher than any performer presently working. For Pete's sake, see this movie and everything else he's done.
77 out of 101 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of Oldman's best
Dodger-916 November 2000
You don't need to be a film genius to realise the gangster thriller is as old as cinema itself, although by the Seventies, it was looking a little ragged around the edges.

The Godfather revitalised the genre and then things grew quiet again in the land of wise talking hoods and their molls.

Hollywood has always been a place where trends mean a host of movies with the same theme all opening within a few months of each other. After body swap comedies and underwater thrillers in the late Eighties, the turn of the Nineties saw the turn of the post modern gangster drama.

So we had a third helping of The Godfather, Goodfellas, Billy Bathgate, Mobsters, the sublime Miller's Crossing and one of the best of the bunch - State of Grace.

The drama centres on a band of low-level Irish-American hoods who operate in the Hell's Kitchen area of New York City. Rising rents are forcing them out of the neighbourhood, so needless to say, yuppies are not their favourite breed.

Sean Penn is Terry Noonan, a New York cop who used to live in the area, and has been on the road for a few years.

Now he's back and glad to see his old mate Jackie Flannery (Gary Oldman). But inflitrating his band of ne'er do wells soon leads to unbearable dramatic tension and a finale which will leave you hooked.

While Sean has always been an okay actor, Gary blows him off the screen as Flannery, the Irish American gangster who keeps severed hands in his fridge so he can use the fingerprints on his firearms.

Yes, really.

Before Oldman started making big budget confections such as Lost in Space, The Fifth Element and Air Force One, he really proved himself in roles such as this.

A self-confessed alcoholic, he never let the booze get in the way of delivering a knockout performance - although by the time he made the dreadful Scarlet Letter, Gary decided to give the sauce a rest and concentrate on his acting.

One of the reasons that Oldman is one of the most sought after actors in the world is his utterly manic style mixed with a conviction that can chill you to the bone.

Although his performance here isn't quite as focused as corrupt DEA officer, Norman Stansfield in Leon, there's still enough menace in Flannery to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention.

For example: There's a scene in which Flannery takes Noonan along one night when he burns down a construction office on a site that will soon be a yuppie apartment building. Oldman's character decides to make arson fun by pouring the petrol between himself and the door - and then see if he can run through it without killing himself.

Yes, Noonan really is that unhinged but while some actors would have used such pyrotechnics as a dramatic crutch, Gary makes you believe the scene was shot for real.

The supporting cast is also pretty good. Ed Harris has always been excellent value for money in The Abyss and The Rock. Here he is on fine form as the mob leader, and Jackie's brother, Frankie, who attempts to reign in his errant sibling. While the only woman in the film, Robin Wright, is wasted as the love interest, don't worry girls. This is not just a film for the lads.

Ennio Morricone's haunting score perfectly accentuates Phil Joanou's direction and as the title suggests, there is a state of grace to the drama which makes it one of the most under rated big screen gems of the last decade.

Written by Dennis McIntyre (his only screenplay sadly) and photographed by the legendary Jordan Cronenweth of Blade Runner fame, this dark fairytale of New York will haunt many for weeks to come.
40 out of 56 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Westies.
hitchcockthelegend20 November 2014
State of Grace is directed by Phil Joanou and written by Dennis McIntyre. It stars Sean Penn, Ed Harris, Gary Oldman, Robin Wright, John Turturo and John C. Reilly. Music is by Ennio Morricone and cinematography by Jordan Cronenweth.

Terry Noonan (Penn) returns to Hells Kitchen after a number of years away and finds his best pal, Jackie Flannery (Oldman), is a major player in the Irish/American mob being run by his elder brother, Frankie Flannery (Harris). With a love interest rekindled and a secret he dare not reveal, Terry is soon caught in a maelstrom of danger and tested loyalties.

It got lost in the slipstream of Goodfellas, but although it's not in the same league as Scorsese's critical darling, State of Grace is a splendid slice of neo-noir gangsterism. The plot is made up of standard genre tropes, divided loyalties, betrayals, kinship, revenge, rivalries, territorial machismo and etc, all of which of course comes laced with spitfire dialogue and sparky violence.

The strengths come with the performances of the lead cast members, the visual flourishes via Cronenweth and Joanou and Morricone's classical score. Penn and Oldman are forces of nature, the former a ball of emotional turbulence, the latter a hopped up maniac with killer tendencies. Harris as the daddio main man is a moody and malevolent presence, as is Joe Viterelli as mafia boss man Borelli. Wright seems a little out of place in this material, Turturo isn't used nearly enough, but Reilly scores well with a limited role and Burgess Meredith pops in for a superb cameo.

It doesn't have originality on its side, but it's a mightily strong film regardless, with the human drama drawing one in as the tech skills impress across the board. 8/10
11 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Very well done
EW-321 August 2000
"State Of Grace" is a film loosely based on the story of the "Westies", the New York Hells Kitchen Irish mob that thrived during the 70s and early 80s. This gang of hoods was extremely violent and unpredictable, and even gave most of the Italian Mafioso (who far outnumbered them) the jitters. Gary Oldman is phenomenal in this film. He is a highly versatile actor in a class by himself, or at the very least, belongs with the likes of Olivier and DeNiro, in that Oldman has proven himself in a wide range of diverse roles besides this one (e.g., in "JFK" as Lee Harvey Oswald, in Dracula as the title role, and even in "Lost In Space" as Dr. Smith). If nothing else, see it for him. But kudos must also go to Sean Penn and Ed Harris for their excellent performances as well. Sean Penn in particular was very well cast. The story is believable, the atmosphere is realistic, and the acting keeps you on the edge of your seat. A very good modern-day crime film.
27 out of 34 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A mess
jadavix7 March 2019
"State of Grace" is one of those movies that feels like it doesn't deserve the performances it features. Obviously, Gary Oldman in psycho mode is always worth the price of admission, but "State of Grace" also has Sean Penn going through the emotional wringer, and Robin Wright, Ed Harris, and an early role from John C. Reilly.

But the movie itself is kind of lame. It's nothing we haven't seen before, and done better. There are violent moments that just feel tacked on because the movie requires them, particularly a moronic shoot-out sequence at the end of the movie that is more far-fetched than anything you'd see in a John Woo flick.

There is also a secret, that didn't exactly surprise me, about the main character, that actually just felt unnecessary and stupid - particularly in light of the aforementioned ending.

I'm not surprised that the filmmaker and screenwriter never really went on to anything else. The movie is a mess, one of those flicks where you can only tell what's going on because you are so familiar with the cliches it trots out.
20 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A genre classic.
Panterken11 March 2008
'State Of Grace' is a well-crafted gangster film from start to finish. From the appropriate saint-paddy's day parade opening-scene to the legendary parallel montage in the end, and everything in between. A fairly lengthy film, SOG never bores but sucks you in and though it doesn't stray far away from the basic gangster genre plot lines and characters, it's got a very own feel to it. This is due to the great Morricone score and the witty dialog, SOG is hilarious at times but overall takes itself seriously. Morricone's soundtracks are legendary for a reason and though this is certainly not one of his best, it does add a lot of class to the picture. I'm sure many of you will agree that the music is very reminiscent of his work in The Untouchables and even more so his work in Once Upon A Time In America (the greatest thing Leone has ever accomplished). The recurring theme always stirred up feelings of nostalgia and a melancholious sadness with me, it quickly gets under your skin and stays there for the rest of the movie. It goes well with the themes of hearth ship and longing for the happiness of youth often appearing in the script.

State Of Grace isn't just a run in the mill gangster movie with a memorable score. The comparison with other genre classics, especially 'The Departed' is unavoidable, and this may just be the right-after-credits-exhilaration (I'm sure you know what I mean) speaking but in my very humble opinion it simply outclasses Scorsese's latest baby. A huge factor here is the cast; Oldman delivers a knock-out-of-the-park performance as the greasy-haired nut case gangster and both Penn and Harris are memorable too. Being a huge Penn and Oldman fan, I can't believe I didn't discover this film sooner. Torturror's role is small so fans, don't get too excited when you see his name.

State of Grace is definitely a genre movie, but not 'just' a genre movie. It belongs to the top of the cream and should be recognized for it.

16 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Searing gangster epic
NateWatchesCoolMovies10 June 2017
Phil Joanou's State Of Grace had the unfortunate luck of being released in 1990, the same year that also saw Scorsese's Goodfellas and the third Godfather film. It's hard to gain your footing when that kind of momentum is surging about, but this film is as good as the others, and deserves recognition or at least some kind of re-release. Set in the blistering inferno of Hell's Kitchen, NYC, it's a violent tale of Irish Mobsters, undercover cops, betrayal and murder, set to a smoky, mournful Ennio Morricone score that lingers in the air like smog. Sean Penn is Terry Noonan, a deep cover operative who returns to his childhood neighbourhood to reconnect with old friends, and dig up buried grudges. Ed Harris is Frankie Flannery, ruthless gangster and former ally, while Gary Oldman plays his hotheaded brother Jackie with a tank full of nitrous and the kind of unpredictable, dynamite fuse potency one expects to see from a David Lynch character. The three of them are on a collision course set in the grimy streets of New York, bound by old loyalties yet destined to clash and draw new blood. Penn shares the screen with his once wife Robin Wright here, looking lovely as ever. There's also supporting turns from John Turturro, John C. Reilly, R.D. Call, a geriatric Burgess Meredith and an unbilled cameo from James Russo. Penn, Harris and especially Oldman are like flint sparks, a trio that won't be stopped and light up the screen for a spellbinding, visceral two hours until their eventual confrontation, hauntingly shot by cinematographer " in the midst of a bustling St. Patrick's Day parade. This one has been somewhat lost to the ages, like a number of other stellar crime dramas I can think of from the nineties. The cast, score and Joanou's thoughtful direction make it an unforgettable piece of work.
9 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
some great performances
SnoopyStyle18 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Terry Noonan (Sean Penn) returns to Hell's Kitchen to find it gentrified. His old friend Jackie Flannery (Gary Oldman) is still a lowlife killer. His ex Kathleen Flannery (Robin Wright) is now working in an uptown hotel. Their old brother Frankie Flannery (Ed Harris) is the cruel leader of an Irish gang. Stevie McGuire (John C. Reilly) is also in the gang. Pat Nicholson (R. D. Call) is Frankie's right hand man. Frankie kills nice kid Stevie. Terry turns out to be a cop and begging his handler Nick (John Turturro) to pull him out.

There are some strong performances. Gary Oldman is the standout as the wild criminal. Sean Penn pulls it back a little and form a perfect pair with Oldman. It may be better to reveal Terry sooner. It's best to do it at the end of the introduction. It opens up his inner conflict and allows for a deeper character. The music is memorable with the haunted tones.
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Simply One of The Best Films Ever Made
manfran412 October 2005
The credits have just begun rolling on what has been my 7th full viewing of State of Grace. (This number doesn't count the times I've watched it after having missed some portion of the film.) I first saw this film as a rental some time around 1992, and it has not lost a bit of its relevance. It is nothing short of mesmerizing. Every time I watch it I'm pulled in completely. The performances are the reason this is one of my all-time favorite films. Gary Oldman was so convincing that I was surprised the first time I heard him speak in his native dialect. His performance in this film, as in virtually every film he's been in, was a thesis on acting. Sean Penn turned in a masterful performance that was complex and nuanced. And Ed Harris displayed his usual laser beam intensity. Everyone in this ensemble piece resonated perfectly to create this vivid story. I hope this film comes to be recognized as the classic I already believe it is.
59 out of 78 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A world of hotheads with diminutive names...and you gotta love it.
lee_eisenberg10 August 2022
Phil Joanou's "State of Grace" had the misfortune of getting released around the same time as Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas", meaning that few people saw it. While it has similar qualities to Scorsese's movie, Joanou's movie is undeniably it's own thing.

Sean Penn plays a cop who returns to New York's Hell's Kitchen after having spent several years on the road. He hooks back up with his volatile friend (Gary Oldman) and inevitably gets involved in the latter's criminal activity.

A noticeable focus of the movie is gentrification. The movie got released just as gentrification was becoming widespread and turning the unique neighborhoods into miniature Disneylands. No surprise that the guys do some of the things that they do. And boy does the movie crank up the intensity!

Basically, the acting, direction, cinematography and score combine to form one of the most unique gangster movies out there. Nothing is idealized or glossed over here. It's the gritty straight stuff. Definitely worth seeing.

In addition to Penn and Oldman, the cast includes Robin Wright, Ed Harris, John Turturro, John C. Reilly, Burgess Meredith and Vincent Pastore. In other words, the movie stars Harvey Milk, Winston Churchill, Princess Buttercup, John McCain, the Jesus, Wreck-It Ralph, the Penguin and Pussy Bonpensiero.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of the best hidden gems of the 90s
trublu21515 February 2015
State of Grace pits an undercover cop against the Irish mob in Hell's Kitchen that is coincidently ran by his best friends. Starring Sean Penn, Gary Oldman, Ed Harris and Robin Wright, this film is a masterpiece that was overshadowed at the time of its release to what would end up becoming the best mob film ever made, Goodfellas. State of Grace showcases powerful performances from Penn and Oldman along with Harris delivering one of the most interesting mob characters of all time with Frankie Flannery. Gary Oldman's performance as the volatile Jackie Flannery is some of the best work Oldman has done which makes it a bit frustrating considering this film could have scored him an Oscar nomination if it was released at a better time. Instead, Oldman would have to wait until some twenty years later to even get a nod. It is a true joy to watch him on the screen and he is one of the only actors who could have pulled that role off. No matter how violent Jackie is or how cold he is, you still root for him...even if he is playing with a dead man's severed hand. The screenplay is tightly wound, making it extremely difficult to walk away from it for even a second. Every scene builds with an incredible amount of tension and allows Penn to flourish as Terry Noonan, who is literally one step away from being figured out and his paranoia sometimes gets the best of him...and us for that matter. This is a film that NEEDS to be seen, it is an absolute blast of entertainment that has been swept under the rug for far too long and deserves an audience. Directed by Phil Joanau, it is a taut and suspenseful film that shoots out of the gate with fury and ends with somber, sobering note in a bar shootout during the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York City. This is grade A entertainment for anyone craving a good mob movie or a good film in general. Overall, I highly recommend this film, it is brutal, powerful and thoroughly captivating.
10 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Best Gangster Film Ever
roland-2728 July 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Its hard to actually comment on which actor gave the best performance in this great film, because everyone in it gave a career best. Ed Harris(The Rock) was incredible as the bad guy boss with equally astounding performances by Gary Oldman(Lost In Space) and Sean Penn(At Close Range).

The story is great. Irish undercover cop Penn returns to his hometown to catch up with the goings on with the Irish mob. Falls in love with old flame(Robin Wright Penn) and meets up with old friends-Oldman, John C Reilly(River Wild) and Oldman's brother, Harris.

The fight scenes are amazing, the dialogue is very smart and the love scenes between him and his real life future wife Robin Wright are so believable.

On a whole there is no denying that this film deserved more recognition than it actually got. Rating=5/5
24 out of 44 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Unknown masterpiece
slightx4 October 2000
Yeah, I love this film. Ever since I saw it at a preview screening, this has been one of my favorites. I said then Gary Oldman should get nominated for Best Supporting Actor and he should have been, except nobody saw this movie, probably because Orion didn't promote this movie at all. All of the leads are awesome. Sean Penn is so messed up and confused, and the hints that he's having trouble with all the drinking are a nice touch. Ed Harris does so much with so little. There's one scene where you can almost see him literally blow his top. By the end, the effects of each different subplot can be seen on each other, all coming together for one climactic moment. And the ending--I get chills from the music. See this movie. Then tell everyone you know.
35 out of 51 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Slow and Overlong
billcr1231 August 2012
I'll start with the positive, which is a great cast led by Sean Penn, and supported by Gary Oldman, Ed Harris, and John C. Reilly. They are all as good as expected. The negative is the over two hour length, and the overall darkness of the film. Sean Penn is Terry Noonan, and he has returned to Hell's Kitchen in New York after a long absence. He reunites with his old friends, Jackie and Frankie, and also hooks up with Jackie's sister, Kathleen. His buddies are members of the Westies, the notorious Irish mobsters of Manhattan. Terry is actually an undercover cop, sent to infiltrate the gang.

Jackie shoots and kills three Italian Mafia guys, and their boss meets with his brother, Frankie, and he is ordered to kill his sibling. He sets him up at a meeting for a cash payment, and shoots him. Terry finds out, and winds up in a shoot out with the Westies at a bar. The ending is rather ambiguous, and, overall, State of Grace never clicked for me.
11 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
moonspinner5528 August 2004
Modern-day gangster drama involving Irish-American mobsters in New York's Hell's Kitchen District. Inspired by real characters, this tiresome film has good actors screaming and swearing at each other for over two hours. Dark and ugly throughout (with wonderful John C. Reilly dying in bloody close-up), the film may use 'real life' as a basis for its ideas, but Martin Scorsese is whom the filmmakers are trying to match. Director Phil Joanou muddies up everything; his vision is very puny and he doesn't shape the scenes with the characters in mind (they're incidental to how everything is staged vis-a-vis the camera). It's also a heavily-padded and clichéd picture: Robin Wright plays the proverbial girlfriend-from-the-right-side role (usually played in these things by Daryl Hannah or Lori Singer). *1/2 from ****
16 out of 42 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Gary Oldman and Sean Penn fight it out to be best actor.
CharltonBoy11 July 2000
This a superbly acted film about an undercover cop( Sean Pen) who infultrates a group of American/Irish gangsters who he used to be friends with. The storyline is not the best but it does not have to be when you are watching people like Gary Oldman act his socks off. The film is shot superbly too , especially the fantastic gun fight at the very end in the Irish bar. If there was one critisism i have to make of this film it would be that it is a little too long which can make it feel a little slow. Overall , if you like gangster movies you will like this. 8 out of 10.
9 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
State of Grace
Angelus26 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Terry Noonan returns home and joins into the Flannery Crime Family, but Terry has a secret. He is actually a police officer, whose job is to capture these criminals.

I thought the film was slow and dull, there were exciting moments, but the pace of the film ruined the good bits. Gary Oldman is genuinely a great actor, but here his performance is erratic, and his constant shouting is annoying. Ed Harris is scary as always, while Sean Penn fails to convince me he is a undercover cop...He looks nothing like a 'Gangster'....someone capable of surviving the mean streets. The occasional love scenes were out of place and there was no real need for it....More importantly, why would someone allow Noonan to go undercover with the Flannery's if he was having doubts about busting his friends.
15 out of 35 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Excellent and very underrated
room10225 January 2003
For some reason, "State of Grace (1990)" seems to have been overlooked since it was released. It gets 7.1/10 on IMDB and only now the DVD has finally been released.

This action/thriller features Gary Oldman, Ed Harris and Sean Penn in top shape. Penn is very low key in this one and has several moving scenes, most of them with his real-life spouse, Robin Wright. Wright has never been, and would never be, more beautiful than in this movie. Her elegance can make you miss a heart beat. The chemistry between the couple is obvious and their scenes are moving and sincere.

Supporting actors include John Turturro, John C. Reilly and the late Burgess Meredith, whose 3-minutes appearance is Oscar-worthy.

Ennio Morricone's music is excellent as always. You might have noticed that he later used (intentionally or not) a "rehash" of the theme at the ending of "Lolita (1997)".

Cinematography (done by the late Jordan Cronenweth), lighting and editing are all top notch. The dynamic shots (most notably in the "waiting" scene) and the excellent use of steadicam and slow-motion work great here.

Director Phil Joanou did an excellent job and it's a shame he simply "disappeared".

Rating: 8.5/10
7 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Milestones of performances
FAJNYFILM9 April 2022
The plot is simple - simple plots make the best movies.

Cast is intriguing however the performances are the strongest part.

Gary Oldman played in a way hew later played in Leon - same looks, same absent eyes and crazyness. Sean Penn is good in a actor team. Ed Harris good as always - tough leader. And some mafia Italians who were good in Godfather.

Good to watch professionals in this slow but dramatic story.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight
JoeyGreen6 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Sean Penn and Gary Oldman normally chew up the scenery but both give mediocre performances in this turkey. There are so many things wrong -- weak script, bad directing, lousy editing, etc -- that one is hard-pressed to find any redeeming value or even a shred of interest in characters, plot or the silly shootout denouement.

As I watched, I was reminded of The Departed -- another Irish mob flick by Scorcese that had its moments but also had unintentional laughs at the wrong places. Won't go there, except that one at least deserve 5 or 6 stars.

First off, Oldman, who plays psychos better than most, is way over the top in this flick. His burst of anger at being told that his brother might have capped Stevie tested credibility, to say the least. Ed Harris, the indecisive, wimpy mob boss, commanded no respect and couldn't keep his boys in line, including Oldman who basically gave him the finger for most of the movie. The scene in the church was ridiculous as well. Harris vs. the Italian boss was a mismatch and it was actually funny to see Ed squirm while the gang argued about whether to do a multi-whacking.

Robin Wright as the love interest was wasted. Penn looked lost and the rest of the cast was uninspiring. And when he showed his badge to Ed Harris, you'd think he'd get clipped right there and then, but no -- wait -- gotta build tension for the big stupid finish.

As for the final shootout, it reminded me of Charlie Bronson, who was able to dodge bullets left and right in the Death Wish sequels simply by crouching to one knee. Only in this case, Penn hardly moves except for a few maneuvers a la our old friend Charlie. Harris empties his cannon, and misses him by a mile, though he manages to wing him while Sean gets off several shots that hit their marks, dropping wise guys left and right. Fadeout with a bleeding Penn staring into the lens...

And everyone wonders why box office receipts are down and modern movies can't hold a candle to the great flicks of the past.
15 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
St. Patricks day massacre
leperish10 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Here is a movie I've been a fan of since it's release in 1990. Gary Oldman is the gem of this film. He plays a long-haired Irish-American thug in New York's Hells Kitchen, employed by an Irish mob headed by his brother played by Ed Harris. This group is backed by the Italian Mafia, and Ed Harris's character is always trying to impress the Mob Chiefton. Sean Penn plays Gary Oldmans child-hood friend and fellow gangster, who left town one day years ago without notice. Now he's back, and welcomed heartily. Without question, he is accepted back into the gang, and put to work. Only problem is, when he left, he went to Boston to become a cop, and now he's undercover and infiltrating his old friends.

A tale of loyalty, betrayal, and murder, done with a style befitting a New York gangster flick. And for Irish-Americans such as myself, it's a great movie to drink to on St. Patty's. This is a good film with a solid cast full of action and drunken Irishmen which leads to one of the best endings to any movie ever; a bar room shoot-out with New York's St. Patrick Day parade as the back drop.

If this movie had a flavor, It would taste like whiskey. Speaking of whiskey, I have been celebrating St Patricks day every year since '95 by downing several glasses of Jameson, and viewing STATE OF GRACE.----now thats Irish.
9 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed