It'a fair to say that the themes of this film are set in stone yet what the last reviewer fails to say is how thrilling the plot is. I was hooked. If you can accept that films about street level hoods and mob based crime have long been the norm since the Godfather then you can focus on the plot details rather than pointing out the cliches.
I will say no more about the plot than it follows Terry Noonan (Sean Penn) returning to his old neighboorhood wher he hooks up with his old pal Jackie Flannery (Gary Oldman) and becomes involved with Jackie's bro Frankie's (Ed Harris) mob who rule over Hell's Kitchen.
It is a brutally violent film yet no matter how repulsive the actions of each character become (watch Gary Oldman wipe out a couple of drinking hoods with no remorse if you know what I mean) you find yourself rooting for them.
The central trio of actors are as good as they've ever been and are supported by a collection of underratedactors - John C Reilly, John Turturro to name a few. Gary Oldman and Sean Penn are the two that bind the film together yet it is Ed Harris that holds the attention, he is repulsive yet vunerable in his scenes with his boss leading the viewer to empathise with his crucial decision.
I have recommended this film to many friends who would never have seen it otherwise and they all agree that it kicks arse! If you are a fan of filma such as Mean Streets, Donnie Brasco, King Of New York and (of course) Goodfellas then give this one a try as I feel it is truly underrated and deserves to sit alongside those afore mentioned.