Like the Coen Brothers’ Miller’s Crossing, director Phil Joanou’s State of Grace was a “gangster movie” released in the fall of 1990 that was overshadowed by GoodFellas (and later The Godfather Part III). Which, like Miller’s Crossing, is a shame, as it’s a formidable piece of filmmaking, a scrappy bar fight of a movie as Terry Noonan (Sean Penn) returns to his old Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, now an undercover cop assigned to bring down his former associates, Irish mobsters Frankie and Jackie Flannery (Ed Harris and Gary Oldman). Oldman got most of the attention for his typical over-the-top portrayal of a loose cannon, but both Penn and Harris are just as good with their slow-burn performances — particularly Harris, who’s a volcano just waiting to explode. State of Grace is no classic, but it packs a punch like several shots of Jameson’s.
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