The Godfather, Part III Reviews
Michael Corleone, the move to legitimacy is complete: the New York
crime business has been handed over to Joey Zasa and all elements of
the Corleone business empire are legal, non-criminal enterprises.
Michael, approaching 60, is now thinking about his legacy. His charity,
run by his daughter Mary, has just handed over $100 million to the
Catholic Church. Michael also intends buying a large stake in
International Immobiliari, a Vatican-run property company. Things are
peaceful and stable but then Vincent Mancini, Sonny Corleone's
illegitimate son, starts a feud with Joey Zasa. This has far- reaching,
deadly consequences, including for Michael's deal with the Vatican.
Unnecessary, as The Godfather II didn't need a sequel. Francis Ford
Coppola has stated that he only did it for the money.
The product itself is a bit hit-and-miss. Plot has some intrigue, with
a Robert Ludlum-like Vatican conspiracy woven into a more conventional
mafia story. This does mean a departure from the feel of the first two
movies, and I'm note sure it's a good departure. The plot becomes
unnecessarily complex and overwrought, making it less tight than the
first two movies. Coppola also unnecessarily draws out the movie -
every scene gets stretched to the limit and there's a lot of padding.
He could easily have lopped 40 minutes (at least) off the movie without
us losing any information or engagement.
Then there's the performances, which are mostly good, with two notable
exceptions. The old guard - Al Pacino, Dianne Keaton, Talia Shire - put
in solid performances. The change in Connie, from passive to assertive
and decisive, was one of the positive features of this movie and Talia
Shire is great in that role.
The new faces include some pretty big names: Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna,
Andy Garcia, George Hamilton, John Savage, Bridget Fonda. Andy Garcia
is great as Vincent Mancini, a worthy (potential) successor to Michael.
Bridget Fonda is great but criminally underused, especially as it
appeared that she would have a bigger role. Eli Wallach and Joe Mantegna are solid as Don Altobello and Joey
Zasa, respectively, and John Savage has little screen time.
George Hamilton is badly miscast as BJ Harrison, Michael's attorney. He
really didn't fit the part and comes off as somewhat unconvincing. He
was stepping into Robert Duvall's shoes - Tom Hagen was meant to
continue into The Godfather III but the character was dropped when
Robert Duvall pulled out over a pay dispute - so he does suffer due to
the comparison with Duvall.
Then we have the performance which almost single-handedly wrecks this
movie: Sofia Coppola. She is absolutely atrocious as Mary Corleone,
well deserving her 1991 Razzie wins for Worst Supporting Actress and
Worst New Star. Her dialogue delivery is incredibly flat and
unconvincing and even when she has no dialogue she seems awkward, like
she doesn't know what to do with herself when she's on camera.
Her flat delivery results in lack of engagement with her character, and
this ruins the climax of the movie. So, there are greater consequences
to her terrible performance.
It's a good thing she took up directing - she's clearly better at that.
Apparently she wasn't first choice for the part, as Julia Roberts and
then Winona Ryder were cast for the role but then had to pull out. So
at least Francis Ford Coppola could say she was hired more out of
desperation than being his daughter. Still, he really should have kept
(Aside: Winona Ryder as Mary - how awesome would that have been? The
mind boggles. And yes, I am a big Winona Ryder fan.)
Overall: not bad, but not that good either.
However, I must say that Andy Garcia does the best work of his career, and that sequence in the opera house is genuinely great cinema.