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Al Pacino and Johnny Depp star in this crime drama directed by Mike Newell. In late 1970s New York, FBI agent Joe Pistone (Depp) goes undercover to infiltrate the Mafia as his alter-ego Donnie Brasco. He befriends ageing hitman Lefty Ruggerio (Pacino) who inducts him into the ways of the mob. As Brasco, Pistone becomes immersed in the world of organised crime and violence, but at the same time comes to regard Lefty as a friend. He knows, however, that when his assignment is over and his cover blown, it will mean certain death for the man who has taken him under his wing. The cast also includes Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby and James Russo.
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No doubt as most of you already know, Donnie Brasco tells the (mostly) true story of how FBI agent Joseph Pistone (convincingly acted by Johnny Depp) worked undercover for six years in the 1970s, infiltrating the Bonanno mafia family in New York City. His gateway in to this world was through Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggiero, an aging hitman for the mob, brilliantly portrayed by Al Pacino (Pacino, here, plays a mafia character on the very bottom rung of the hierarchy, the diametric opposite to his Michael Corleone of The Godfather). Lefty comes to regard Donnie as the son he wished he had and as the two men bond, Donnie's critical distance from the mob becomes diminished (in reality, Agent Pistone never felt this deep sense of empathy for Lefty, as Ruggiero was a stone-cold killer with over two dozen murders under his belt).
The blu-ray US import is not region coded, so it will work on UK blu-ray players. The video quality is solid with some good detail on the wider street scenes and the audio is respectable, given that it's mostly about older men talking in rooms. The best of the limited extras is a 23 minute documentary that contains an interview with the real Joseph Pistone.
While I enjoyed immensely Donnie Brasco upon its initial theatrical release, the only real issue I had with the film was that while the story spans six years, that sense of this time actually passing was never really captured on film. The additional twenty minutes footage of this Extended Cut, making the film almost two and a half hours long, now resolves that issue; there are additional mob scenes but most importantly, Pistone's declining domestic life has some flesh put on the bones, which is something the real Pistone said was initially missing from this film (another departure from the true story is that in reality, Pistone never hit his wife). Scenes of Agent Pistone engaged in domestic chores or arguing with his wife, or engaging in trivial banter with his mafia "friends" were not essential to the film and I can understand why they were initially cut, in the William Faulkner, kill-your-darlings, sense. However, they make the film both more intimate and yet bigger and add that all important detail to the story.
As to who actually restored this footage to the film, I am at a loss, though it doesn't appear to be British director Mike Newell, as this is not labelled a "Director's Cut" but rather just an "Extended Cut." This made me suspicious of the potential care and quality of this edit but certainly the additional scenes have been edited appropriately and nothing looks or feels out of place or jarring.
The gangster genre is one of the defining genres in American cinema, with films like The Godfather (parts I & II) and Goodfellas popularly being considered amongst the best films ever made. Donnie Brasco, while not hitting those heights, is certainly a great addition to this category, with another amazing Al Pacino performance as a frustrated mafiosi, never getting the credit he feels he deserves, while also schooling new kid on the block Donnie Brasco in the customs and language of the mob. This Extended Cut of Donnie Brasco is well worth getting if you feel the same way about the mob genre. Writer Paul Attanasio has crafted a great story and delivered some classic mafia dialogue, such as, "When they send for you, you go in alive, you come out dead and it's your best friend that does it."
Mike Newell is a superb director, not an auteur who leaves his personal fingerprint on a film but like a chameleon that adapts to different environments or an anthropologist who observes alien cultures.
This is a first rate edition with a longer version than the one released theatrical, an interesting making of and subtitles.
The Blu-Ray itself is an excellent transfer. The picture is amazing on a 50" screen. The picture quality is the only thing that Sony have gone to town on with this though, packaging and extras are very basic (a featurette and photo gallery) .
Audio is PCM uncompressed English or a lifted 5.1 from the DVD version also in English only.
Subtitles are English or French
Running time is 147mins as an extended cut.
Transfer score is 9/10 movie is also a 9/10
A fbi agent is sent to infiltrate. The mob
And is so convincing he was nearly made a made man,meaning fully part of a mob family.it tells of the strains of his under cover mob life and his married life he was pulled. Out because of the strain and he was nearly forced to kill on behalf of the mob family......he still has a contract on him
Excellent acting. By depp and pacino
Depp is very good and Pacino almost reprises his roles in Heat and Carlito's Way, although he's further down the pecking order here.
The plot here is simple with few side issues of any note, so it's easy to follow and reasonably entertaining.