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Real life story of undercover police officer Frank Serpico (Al Pacino), who discovers that corruption is rife soon after joining the force. Refusing the payoffs which have become accepted practice, the nonconformist Serpico finds himself spurned and harrassed by his fellow officers. When the strain of performing his job honestly finally becomes too much, Serpico turns first to the disinterested police commission and finally to the 'New York Times' to make his voice heard, and is forced to give evidence in the resulting investigation. However, with the cops as well as the crooks now out for his blood, Serpico discovers that integrity comes at a very high price.
Al Pacino delivers a powerful performance in this compelling biopic of a cop and a city's police force --Kim Newman, Empire Magazine
A virtuoso performance by Al Pacino and some expert location work by Sidney Lumet add up to a tour de force genre piece (1973) that transcends the supercop conventions to create a moving, engrossing portrait of Frank Serpico-a literate, sensitive, honest cop who tried to come to terms with society and the policeman's place in it, and was crucified by a police department too corrupt to want any part of the real world --Don Druker, The Chicago Reader --This text refers to the Blu-ray edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Every once in a while along comes a film that has something special, and this film is one of them. It concentrates on story rather than action, and tells a good one. Anybody who likes 70's cop films, or is a fan of Al Pacino MUST SEE THIS FILM. The New York locations are gritty and real (104 different locations). And portrays the seedier side, back in the 70's. This ranks high on the list of Al Pacino's greatest films, and proves that a good film done right does not need to rely on action sequences to make it a box office hit, and this film was done right. This borders on the edge of brilliance.
The film is presented in a ratio of 1.78:1. The original ratio was 1.85:1. But most of Paramount's dvd releases are in this ratio if the original was shot in 1.85:1. Picture Quality is razor sharp, with no grain at all, and according to the box the audio is in 5.1. (The film was originally shot in mono).
The movie is about the laws within us and not just the laws written. The character of Serpico is one of self reliance. And love. You see that in the way he chooses a pet dog. In the way he responds to the chatter of a neighbour. He falls for her and her for him. Some call it intelligence. Compatible humour.
At some point you know you are going to learn the reason for him becoming police. I understood that reason. Ignorance is no way forward. I really enjoyed reading about what it takes to win an Oscar. Acting for an Oscar requires only an exaggerated visual performance. We should replace 'best' with 'most' says Karina Longworth, former chief film critic for LA Weekly. Accents do it, make-up (especially scars), deformities or drastic weight loss. She describes Pacino's acting as 'devoid of vanity.' He is Serpico.
The only other thing worthy of note is that it is proper widescreen, no black bars. So take a trip back to the early seventies. When you had room to be. But society was the same.
Al Pacino produces one his best ever (Oscar nominated) performances, unsullied by the overacting that blighted his later career. Going undercover and wishing to remain as un-policeman like as possible, at least in appearance, Frank Serpico has a complex home life, that we fortunately get to share, as this helps us establish his character.
For 1973, we are allowed many subjects that we now take for granted but few could, or dared back then. Drugs, an overwhelming paranoia over homosexuality in the force and some graphic violence are handled - times have moved on, of course and so their treatment is varied, shall we say.
There is a lot of detailed talk and natural scenarios that lead onto other scenarios and as such, there aren't shoot-outs every five minutes. This is an intelligent film that does have its moments of action but it's about the man Serpico and his mounting enemy - his own employers. That's enough for any person to handle and Serpico doesn't always handle them well. But, that all adds up to an even more interesting story.
John Randolph co-stars as Serpico's Chief and the whole cast, a plethora of people from low-lifes to cops are all uniformly good.
Why only four stars? This film has been round for quite a while and this latest viewing must have been my fourth. It remains very watchable, every now and again but it has lost its bite a bit and its length is just a bit more than one can about bear, at 130 mins. For Pacino watchers and those who enjoy a good, absorbing cop drama, especially an adult gritty one, then Serpico is a must.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's a good film though it takes itself very seriously: "I'm going undercover, deep undercover."Published 1 month ago by Dan Smith
Pacino's performance in this realistic portrayal of an honest police officer attempting to expose corruption within the ranks of his colleagues is outstanding, to say the least. Read morePublished 4 months ago by EarthSpace1
IMO one of Al Pacino's best performance's,great movie/cast based on a true story,simply awesome....Published 6 months ago by Steve1899