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Graceland (2013)


Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 26
Fresh: 22
Rotten: 4

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 10
Fresh: 7
Rotten: 3

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 617


Movie Info

In this unpredictable and tightly-paced thriller, family man Marlon Villar - a longtime chauffeur to corrupt Filipino politician Manuel Chango - is faced with an unthinkable predicament when he is ambushed while driving both his boss's and his own daughter home from school one afternoon. As events spin wildly out of control, Marlon, Chango and their families are forced into a rapid downward spiral of deceit and betrayal that will leave no one innocent. -- (C) Drafthouse

Drama , Art House & International , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
Ron Morales
In Theaters:
Jul 23, 2013
Box Office:
Drafthouse Films - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Graceland

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (22) | Rotten (4)

Graceland ... has a ruthlessness rarely attempted by its North American counterparts.

Full Review… | May 10, 2013
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

The film feels increasingly exploitative as it becomes more overtly political, illustrating various forms of injustice with blunt, sensationalistic imagery.

Full Review… | May 3, 2013
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A potent combo of hostage thriller and high-impact morality play.

Full Review… | April 26, 2013
Top Critic

The social and economic pitfalls facing the vast urban underclass of Manila's sprawling metropolitan area are depicted with unflinching regard in Ron Morales' observant low-budget Filipino feature, a blend of ruthless crime drama and grim thriller.

Full Review… | April 26, 2013
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

A tense, twisty cinematic artichoke brimming with moral complexity and intriguing shades of gray.

Full Review… | April 26, 2013
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

A nerve-shredding Philippines-set thriller made with such skill that its low budget barely registers.

Full Review… | April 26, 2013
New York Post
Top Critic

Sometimes difficult to stomach, the film captures the fragility of normal life in such a hotbed of crime and disorder.

Full Review… | May 29, 2013

Morales's often brutal morality tale has both a grim intensity and a shattering impact.

Full Review… | May 10, 2013
The Grid

Graceland is more concerned with the moral compromises of individuals than the greater failures of society.

Full Review… | May 2, 2013
Mark Reviews Movies

Filipino-American filmmaker Ron Morales gets raw and real in a return to his cultural roots in teeming Manila for this sex trafficking thriller, though flirting with the boundaries between outrage and exploitation.

Full Review… | May 1, 2013
WBAI Radio

It's a fantastic thriller with outstanding performances that command attention.

Full Review… | April 28, 2013
Film School Rejects

Graceland is a deceptively simple thriller with a smart setup and a cruelly efficient execution.

Full Review… | April 28, 2013
Film School Rejects

Morales, who also wrote the script, knows how to pull at our heartstrings, especially with scenes involving child prostitutes.

Full Review… | April 28, 2013
San Diego Union-Tribune

Graceland is an extremely bleak, yet very interesting film, that builds suspense through a tight story and quality acting rather than gimmicks.

Full Review… | April 26, 2013
We Got This Covered

Take the worst day you've ever had at your job and multiply it by ten. That still probably won't compare with the day that Marlon Villar (Arnold Reyes) is having in Graceland.

Full Review… | April 26, 2013
Paste Magazine

This is not a movie to see on a first date or with your family, but please do go see it, because Morales has pulled off something remarkable -- a fast-paced, tough, and twisty film that confronts real social problems.

Full Review… | April 26, 2013
Austin Chronicle

It is one of the bleakest movies you'll see all year, but its dramatic contours mark Morales as a filmmaker with the ability to craft a tight and unnerving story.

Full Review… | April 25, 2013
Austin American-Statesman

Graceland mashes together suspense thriller with sobering child trafficking drama, with mixed results.

Full Review… | April 24, 2013
The Playlist

Audience Reviews for Graceland

'Graceland'. Sets the stakes high, stumbles, but ultimately finds its feet as a first-rate thriller. A scathing take on the corruption and sex trade in the Philippines.


Super Reviewer


Ransom flicks I'll admit is not a territory I have much experienced in given I've only seen a few of them. From a story perspective these films have potential, but can fall into a tedious nature. That's the case with Graceland which in spite of being a good film demands you sit through tedious storytelling for a payoff.

Graceland is about a desperate father risking everything to save his daughter from the men who hold her captive. The premise doesn't sound original but is saved by taking an unexpected direction. The father we follow is not entirely sympathetic. We constantly question his actions to save his daughter even more so in a revelation that puts everything into perspective. It has enough plot to hold a small film but missing are some significant subplots. It's too direct without a focus on anything else it lacking depth on what it tackles.

In terms of development we get very basic dialogue. There's not a single scene that goes for too long because of how minimum the conversations are kept. This causes pacing issues as scene abruptly end as often as they begin. Pacing issues only gives us glimpses of themes of family, class, corruption, extortion, sexual behaviour, suspicion, sickness, trafficking, revenge, redemption, etc. in the middle. These mention themes are rush in the first and final act. The acting is at best decent. No stand out performances here, but are good enough to add tension to the story even when it dragging itself. Be advise though there is a scene where we see a preteen child visibly naked making for one very uncomfortable moment for the viewer.

Graceland while not destined to become the next great ransom flick is a good one. It takes a unoriginal premise into a unexpected direction enough so the whole picture is worth taking a look. If you're able to get through the tedious moments you'll find something that will make you think.

Caesar Mendez

Super Reviewer

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