Follow TV Tropes


Film / States of Grace

Go To

States of Grace is a 2005 American action-drama film. It is Richard Dutcher's sequel to God's Army, though the film is more of a thematic follow-up as it has different main characters serving as missionaries in the same mission, though a few characters from the previous film reprise their roles as Elder Banks, Elder Mangum, and President Beecroft.

Instead, the film follows Elder Scott Farrell (Lucas Fleischer) is a straight-laced missionary, and his companion, Elder Lozano (Ignacio Serricchio) is preparing to finish his mission in Los Angeles. While walking around, the elders get caught up in some street violence, and Lozano helps a man named Carl Griffin (Lamont Stephens) survive getting shot by a man named Manuel Cienfuegos. After recovering from his wounds, Carl wants to learn more from the missionaries. Meanwhile, the elders decide to take in and care for a homeless street preacher named Louis (Jo-sei Ikeda), with the help of their neighbor Holly (Rachel Emmers).

States of Grace contains examples of:

  • Actionized Sequel: This movie has a lot more action scenes
  • Advice Backfire: Discussed when Elder Farrell advises Elder Lozano to sing a hymn when he gets a dirty thought. He replies that this just gives him dirty thoughts when he sings hymns in church.
  • Adopted to the House: Elders Farrell and Lozano think the homeless street preacher (named Louis) is sick and bring him in their apartment, breaking mission rules. They become friends, and Louis gets his own congregation.
  • All Men Are Perverts:
    • Farrell takes glances at a bikini girl and Holly, who he later commits adultery with.
    • Louis comments on how good-looking Holly is, and he later says he was "weak with the ladies".
  • Artistic License – Religion: Elder Lozano tells Carl there's no rule that they can't speed up the process of getting baptized. While this is technically true, they'd need special permission to make sure he knows what he's getting into and committed to attending church. It would also normally take a lot longer for the missionaries to know that Carl has fully repented of past sins, especially since in Carl's case they seem pretty serious.
  • Big "NO!": Carl screams "no" a couple times at the sky after one of his friends shoots Manuel.
  • Bring My Red Jacket: Todd wears a red hoodie, and then he gets stabbed.
  • Car Fu: Carl uses this to breaking Manuel's leg.
  • Cycle of Revenge: A major theme in the movie. Manuel shoots Carl and kills his friend Abe. Instead of seeking revenge, Carl turns to God through the missionaries. Todd still wants to get revenge on behalf of his older brother and gets killed. Carl turns away from God to get revenge on his younger brother.
  • Death of a Child: A gangster stabs Todd to death, so Carl goes to avenge his brother's death.
  • Driven to Suicide: After breaking the Law of Chastity, and at the thought of returning home without honor, Elder Farrell slits his wrists in the bathroom, though the other missionaries get him to the hospital before he dies.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The characters who play Joseph and Mary can first be seen when the elders take Carl to the emergency room. The woman is pregnant, presumably with the child who will play the Baby Jesus.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Elder Farrell is reading Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage in his missionary outfit while the rest of the missionaries are playing basketball.
  • First-Name Basis: Holly starts calling Elder Farrell by his first name "Scott" after she sleeps with him.
  • Forbidden Love: Elder Farrell and Holly's relationship is strictly forbidden under mission and Church rules, so he gets sent home.
  • Foreshadowing: Elder Farrell lectures Lozano on avoiding dirty thoughts, but he looks back when a bikini girl passes them. When he gets home, he glances down at the form of his neighbor Holly, foreshadowing their relationship.
  • From Dress to Dressing: Elder Lozano rips up his white shirt to help Carl, a gang member who was shot in front of him.
  • Gangland Drive-By: Manuel drives up to a bunch of gangsters and opens fire, though Elders Farrell and Lozano almost get caught in the line of fire.
  • Generic Ethnic Crime Gang:
    • Carl and Manuel are members of rivaling black gangs.
    • Lozano explains in his backstory that he almost joined a gang which is implied to be Columbian.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Carl buries his weapons to show he's given up the gangster life, but then he digs them up to avenge the death of his brother, which he later regrets doing.
  • Heel–Faith Turn:
    • Elder Lozano's backstory is that he was almost recruited into a gang (presumably a Colombian one), but the missionaries put him on Gospel path.
    • Carl, who originally taunted the missionaries, suddenly becomes interested in learning from them after he gets shot and Lozano sticks with him.
  • I Have a Family: Carl captures Manuel and puts a gun to his head. Manuel begs him not to kill him, saying he has an eight-year-old sister. Carl decides to let him go, but one of his friends shoots him instead.
  • Knocking on Heathens' Door: Elder Farrell and Elder Lozano go knocking on some doors, but nobody there seems interested.
  • Magical Negro: Inverted with Louis. The missionaries inspire him to get off the streets and back to leading his own congregation.
  • Meaningful Echo: Holly tells Elder Farrell her backstory and how her family disowned her after learning she entered the adult film industry. Farrell assures her that God loves her "just as much as He did when you were a baby." Holly repeats this line back to him after he tries to kill himself after breaking the Law of Chastity.
  • The Missionary: Elders Farrell and Lozano.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Elder Farrell breaks down in tears after having sex with Holly. He even tries to kill himself.
  • Nap-Inducing Speak: Elders Farrell and Lozano try teaching an old woman, but she falls asleep. The elders joke that the cat is interested, but then even the cat goes to sleep.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: Todd tries to load a gun, but it gets jammed.
  • Save the Villain: Subverted. Carl decides against shooting Manuel, but one of his friends does it instead. Carl seems to regard it as Murder by Inaction.
  • Ship Tease: While Farrell is preparing to leave the mission for sexual transgression, Holly says she'll keep in touch with him, which Farrell appreciates.
  • Shout-Out: While Carl gets a confirmation blessing, Todd is murdered by Manuel's gang. The way the scene plays out is akin to The Godfather.
  • The Stinger: In a mid-credits scene, Louis has a lively sermon with his new congregation. He delivers the same message that he gives at the start of the film.
  • Tattoo as Character Type: Elder Lozano has tattoos to show he almost joined a gang.
  • Thematic Series: The only connection that this movie has to the original God's Army is it takes place in the same mission in Los Angeles and has some of the secondary characters (Elder Mangum, Elder Banks, President Beecroft).
  • There Will Be Toilet Paper: Louis cuts himself shaving when Holly knocks on the door. Holly notices the cut and offers to treat it, and she also gives him a haircut.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Manuel stabs Carl's younger brother Todd twice and leaves him to die.
  • You Killed My Father: Louis wants to avenge the death of his younger brother Todd.