Michael Corleone: I spent my life protecting my son. I spent my life protecting my family!
Kay Corleone: Let's be reasonable here, Michael. I mean, that's your big thing, isn't it? Reason backed up by murder.
Michael Corleone: Oh, God, you hate me. You hate me.
Kay Corleone: No, I don't hate you, Michael. I dread you.
Michael Corleone: I did what I could, Kay, to protect all of you from the horrors of this world.
Kay Corleone: But you became my horror. The children still love you, though. Especially Mary.
Michael Corleone: Well, that's something. We can build on that. For their sake. Let's try.
Kay Corleone: Only if you let Tony go to live his own life. Away from you.
Michael Corleone: I'll let Tony go.
Kay Corleone: Thank you.
I tend to undersell this movie both in my mind and to others, but the fact is, despite some flaws, this is still a very good movie. When there are two previous films in a series considered to be some of the best works in film of all time, it is of course hard to live up to have another entry live up to those standards; however, this film does manage to bring Pacino back to one of the most significant roles of his career and bring Coppola back to the realm of his very classy direction.
Set in 1979, an aging and remorseful Don Michael Corleone seeks to legitimize his crime family's interests and remove himself from the violent underworld but is kept back by the ambitions of the young. While he attempts to link the Corleone's finances with the Vatican, Michael must deal with the problems of a hungrier gangster seeking to upset the existing Mafioso order and a young protege's love affair with his daughter. During all this, Michael deals with the sins he's committed in his past and how that now reflects on his life as a father and ex-husband to his one time love, Kay.
There are really only two things that legitimately bug me about this movie. One is the lack of Robert Duvall, who has been replaced, after being written out of the story due to salary disputes. The character played by George Hamilton, who has replaced him, has no where near the cool that Duvall had as Tom Hagen. The other is the obvious factor - Sofia Coppola. There is no way around the fact that she just isn't very good in the role as Mary, Michael's daughter. Her presence just sucks life out of this movie.
Now, beyond these factors, there are a lot of good things here. The presence of Andy Garcia in this film is awesome. He plays the hot headed, illegitimate child of Sonny Corleone, and everything he does is a lot of fun here. Joe Mantegna is also fun as the rival hot shot, Joey Zasa. Eli Wallach is always welcome, nuff said. Then you have Talia Shire, who previously annoyed me in both previous films as Connie Corleone, only to become a force to be reckoned with, as her age has turned her into a conniving planner out for her own gain to benefit the family.
Pacino of course delivers, as he knows who the character that he is playing is. His older, reflective version of Michael is a perfect portrait of a once good man, turned evil through his actions originally meant for good, only to now be in a reflective stats as the years have passed.
The story presented involving the Corleone's mixing it up with the Vatican could be seen as a little outlandish, but the work of subtlety and deliberate pacing portrayed by Coppola's direction certainly gives the film sure footing to make it work.
All the staples of the Godfather films are once again present here, and this feature certainly blends right into the series without feeling out of place, for the most part.
A solid final entry.
Michael Corleone: Goodbye my old friend. You could have lived a little longer, I could be closer to my dream. You were so loved, Don Tommasino. Why was I so feared, and you so loved? What was it? I was no less honorable. I wanted to do good. What betrayed me? My mind? My heart? Why do I condemn myself so? I swear, on the lives of my children: Give me a chance to redeem myself, and I will sin, no more.