Beyond cliche, transcendent in performance and craft, it remains one of the best viewing experiences I've had. Pacino is a caged animal and acts like he doesn't want to be in the movie-- he just has to be.
A solid B noir elevated by a sense of the mythic, like Angel Heart (of which it shares a creepy number of parallels) Johnny Handsome is concerned with themes of identity and the idea of a man who has physically transformed himself but in the end, can't escape his fate. Rourke is arguably the only actor who could pull this off with such conviction-- the performance is vulnerable, straight-forward and mostly lacking in irony despite its concept. The ending is downright brutal . The cast is stacked and delivers across the board-- more Ellen Barkin please.