Donnie Brasco Reviews
An undercover within the mob. It's been done countless and millions of times. However, when done as exquisitely as "Donnie Brasco" does, it's like watching an original plotline again. The obvious story outcomes that we're expecting from a plotline in this type of genre, "Donnie Brasco" hurdles over somewhat the same plot-points with a higher emphasis on the psyche and the hidden. Altogether, it makes for an incredibly rich and engaging narrative. One of the most entertaining mafia flicks I've seen in an extremely long time, mainly due to the mind-blowingly outstanding performances -- by the likes of Johnny Depp and the infamous Al Pacino, -- the entertaining dips and dives of the narrative, and the exquisitely sharp writing that throws a lot of comedic punches to the gut, all the while having a sober basis on reality. "Donnie Brasco", with these elements done in grade-A fashion, manages to place itself as one of the most well-paced gangster movies of all time. Not once does the movie begin to outstay its welcome.
There's not much more to talk about without giving out the vital details of the narrative. Everything within this film works. This is a pitch-perfect, immaculate B-movie mafia flick, coupled with real rich tension, characters the audience deeply sympathizes with, and a narrative that's buttery-smooth. "Donnie Brasco" is a much watch.
"Donnie Brasco. Based on a true story."
Donnie Brasco is an amazing mafia film. First off, right from the get go we know what is going on. Joe Pistone is undercover as Donnie Brasco. His objective is to infiltrate the mob. This movie is constantly pushed aside by people. They'll it's okay, but it's no Goodfellas or Godfather. That isn't what it supposed to be. This is as unglamorous a loom at the life as you will ever see. Pacino's character Lefty isn't the typical mob character we are given. Normally the guy at the center of a mob movie is at the top. He's got money, cars, women, everything he wants, he's got. Not Lefty. He'll even tell you he's got nothing. Lefty along with Pistone don't make for a very glamourous pair. Pistone is on the edge of bringing down the mob, yet he has to deal with his wife who is unhappy with him and also the guilt of Lefty being killed when the mob finds out he was an undercover FBI agent the whole time.
Donnie Brasco features a superb cast. Al Pacino and Johnny Depp are both on the top of their game. They bring out the most in their characters every single scene. Plus there's a great supporting cast including Michael Madsen and Anne Heche, plus glimpses of Paul Giamatti. The film doesn't merely succeed because of the cast though. This real life story is one that needed to be told. It's absolutely engrossing and Mike Newell brings out the most in the story through his tremendous directing.
There's always suspense in this film. Are they going to find out that Donnie Brasco isn't really Donnie Brasco? There are also moments when we think Lefty is going to get whacked, and then we think Donnie is going to get whacked. Lefty and Donnie are best friends one second, then something changes and we don't really know what Lefty's feelings are anymore. Then there's an article in the paper that Donnie can't have anyone seeing. There's people spotting Donnie on the street, but they don't know him as Donnie so they shout out, "Hey Joe." There's just so many ways for this to all come crumbling down on Joe Pistone and it's absolutely thrilling to watch unravel.
You can look at this from two levels. First, it's a great mob movie showing the behind the scenes goings on and also the life of a low level worker of the mob. We also learn inside stuff on how they talk and how you get to be a made man. And second, it is a biographical story on Joe Pistone. He risked everything to go in and collect evidence to use against the mob. Either way you look at it, this is a tremendous film. One that deserves more praise than it has gotten.
Donnie Brasco is a true crime story of a federal agent who infiltrated the Bonanno crime family over a period of years, ultimately resulting in a lot of successful prosecutions.
I'm not usually the biggest fan of these kinds of movies, but the cast makes Donnie Brasco pretty interesting, even for those who might not be into it, normally. Johnny Depp, Al Pacino, Michael Madsen, and other less-known (but still great) actors fill Donnie Brasco with performances that keep it as realistic as the subject matter deserves.
It's nice to see Depp take on roles that are grounded in reality, because they prove that he's pretty good at just plain old acting. No eccentric characters required. And as good Al Pacino movies have become pretty rare these days, it's nice to be reminded that the guy is still brilliant at what he does when he gets good material to work with.
Depp's performance is yet another exceptional piece of character work by one of our finest actors. Pacino turns in a respectful performance as well as the vulnerable mafioso who is a bit out of his element that he believes to be very much his own.
This drama about an undercover cop who learns the hidden dangers of working his way inside the mob was based on a true story. Joe Pistone (Johnny Depp) is an FBI agent who is given an assignment to infiltrate the Mafia; calling himself Donnie Brasco, he befriends Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino), a low-level mob hit man whose personal life is in tatters. Lefty's marriage is falling apart, his son is a junkie, and his health is failing, which only adds to his growing disillusionment about having spent 30 years with the Mafia (and killing 26 people) with little to show for it. But in Donnie, Lefty sees someone who can succeed where he failed; he takes the young man under his wing, and under Lefty's tutelage Donnie quickly rises through the ranks of organized crime; however, the longer he plays the role of the gangster, the more Joe Pistone finds himself becoming Donnie Brasco in his increasingly rare off hours; it drives a wedge between himself and his wife (Anne Heche) and children, and Joe realizes that a break in character among the hoodlums he's come to know could mean a death sentence for himself and his family. Just as importantly, Joe has come to regard Lefty as a close and trusted friend, and Joe realizes that when the day comes where he has to turn in his Mob associates, he'll be ending Lefty's life as surely as if he put a slug in his head himself. The supporting cast includes Michael Madsen as Sonny, Lefty's boss, and Bruno Kirby as Nicky, one of Sonny's henchmen.
It is important to remember that in probably every gangster film, from the Public Enemy to Goodfellas, the anti-heroes are hugely likable characters who we easily gain empathy more. Al Pacino as Lefty is so convincing as an ignored foot soldier and world weary gangster, it is easy to see why Joe/Donnie likes him so much. It continually amazes me that in the 90's, Pacino just by the gestures, postures and voices he employed in his characterisations seemed to jump between ages. As Frank Slade he seemed like a washed up blind man, who to get out of bed was a strain, whilst in the same year, as Carlito he seemed twenty years younger.
Donnie Brasco is another fine example of this. At times he seems as old as your grandad but always somehow manages to mix menace with pathos and humour. Donnie Brasco - the last great gangster movie. It not as magnificent as the Godfather or as epic as Casino, but in its portrayal of the insidous nature of the 'life' on even straight shooters like Depp it is unrivaled.
Overall, this is an OK film that shows off the skills of the veteran Pacino and the soon-to-become-superstar Depp.