Thursday, July 23, 2015

Film Review: Serpico (1973)

Serpico (Review)
United States/1973
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"... anchored by Pacino's wonderful leading performance, the amazing music, and Lumet's superb direction."

The story of Frank Serpico (Al Pacino), an honest cop in a corrupt system...

Serpico follows the titular character through several key moments in his career. The film begins with the end, then formally introduces us to Frank "Paco" Serpico during his graduation. As a regular beat cop, Serpico excels in every assignment — including those collars taken by his lazy peers. He soon finds himself as a plainclothes officer. His enjoyment is short-lived as he finds corruption running rampant. Even worse, he can't seem to find where it ends — there's always a higher-up with a lower moral system. As for the worst of the worst, Serpico must face the peers he's turned against during his everyday job — his life. Although we know how it ends from the beginning, at least partially, Serpico delivers a grand conclusion.

Serpico is a fantastic crime film. Who would have thought a film about police would feel more like a gangster epic? (Probably everyone with a tainted view of the police by now — probably everyone, but I digress.) This is one of Serpico's strong points. It takes away what we know and gives us something new, while feeling like something we know. This police force moved like mobsters, extorting thugs and sweeping the ugly under the rug. The depiction is raw and rich — and I loved that. Although there are some missing or tiny pieces in Serpico as a character, I loved watching his transformation — his deterioration. The film keeps you engaged during this trek oozing with corruption, betrayal, and suspense. There are a few bland spots here and there, but they're sparse. Otherwise, I didn't have any significant issues with the film.

Al Pacino is stellar. Pacino, like in most of his early work, delivers a superbly charismatic, energetic, and powerful performance — he fully immerses himself into his character, he is Frank Serpico. Pacino is bolstered by a strong supporting cast, as well. The film is shot beautifully, I enjoyed the cinematography. I absolutely loved the music, though; this soundtrack is amazing, something to behold. The performances, the visuals, and the music blend together to create an organic world — something you can grasp. Director Sidney Lumet, who also directed the masterful Network, crafts a sprawling crime epic with finesse. His direction is meticulous.

Overall, Serpico is a fantastic film. It's a suspenseful and immersive crime film with a tall tale to tell — and a real one, at that. The film is anchored by Pacino's wonderful leading performance, the amazing music, and Lumet's superb direction. There were a few moments where the film ran out of steam, but it's mostly an ominous, suspenseful, intricate and even informative ride. Don't miss it.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood, some sex and nudity.

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