State of Grace Reviews
Janet Maslin, film critic for The New York Times, wrote, "Mr. Joanou attempts to capture the sense of place that defines urban crime, and the ethnic and territorial distinctions that give it shape. He is successful much of the time here." Maslin praised Oldman and Harris, writing, "Jackie Flannery is played by the phenomenal Gary Oldman, who since Sid and Nancy has taken on a string of new accents and dramatic identities with stunning ease", and "Jackie's icy older brother ... is played by Ed Harris with an eeriness to match Mr. Oldman's." Critic Vincent Leo praised Penn's performance, noting, "While Oldman gets the accolades for his energetic performance, it is really Penn's inner demons that provides the film with the right amount of conflict, always letting us be aware that fine lines are the difference between life and death, as well as right and wrong, out in the streets of New York. Is Penn doing the noble thing by taking down the criminals, or is he a rat bastard, disowning himself from the way of life and people who helped him along the way? It's the question that makes him sick to the pit of his stomach, and Penn shows it in his face with almost every scene." Roger Ebert, film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times, felt the film begins as "original and challenging" but then "turns into a story filled with familiar elements". He nevertheless awarded it three stars out of four and had particular praise for the work of Gary Oldman, writing: "Oldman's performance in the movie is the best thing about it...What's best about State of Grace is what's unique to it - the twisted vision of the Oldman character, who lives in a world of evil and betrayal and has somehow thought himself around to the notion that he is doing the right thing." State of Grace has been recognized as a cult classic.
I did see "State of Grace" at the movies when it came out in 1990 as I had strong beliefs it was a great movie and that is almost an understatement. I haven´t changed my opinion since then. "State of Grace" have a familiar core with love, friendship and betrayal as the main topics, but directors Phil Joanou and Michael Lee Baron makes this film stand out due to a fine handling of the script, excellent performances by Sean Penn, Gary Oldman, Ed Harris and Robin Wright, beliveable characters, beautiful cinematography of New York in general and the shady Hell's Kitchen, frenetic action, dramatic moving vibes and gritty tension plus great direction from Joanou/Baron. With such a strong focus on the characters and their lives you need a great cast and "State of Grace" truly has that. Penn delivers on a top level and so does Harris and Wright, but I need to say that Oldman is truly brilliant as the hot-headed madman Jackie. Oldman is a fine actor who can play anything. I can´t think of a better cast. I love the ending that feels like a dream sequence set in slow motion and with that classic western showdown feeling to it. Terry finally faces his demons of his youth and he simply don´t care if it will cost his life. "State of Grace" is truly a great movie in my eyes.