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|Genre||Documentary/Biography, Action & Adventure|
|Contributor||Michael Madsen, Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, Mike Newell|
|Runtime||2 hours and 7 minutes|
Based on a true story...
Posing as jewel broker Donnie Brasco, FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone is granted entrance into the violent mob family of aging hitman Lefty Ruggiero. When his personal and professional lives collide, Pistone jeopardizes his marriage, his job, his life and, ultimately, the gangster mentor he has come to respect and admire.
"Two Thumbs Up!" - Siskel & Ebert
"A Killer Gangster Picture!" - Gene Shalit, Today Show
"Donnie Brasco is one terrific movie!" - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
- Aspect Ratio : 1.78:1
- MPAA rating : R (Restricted)
- Product Dimensions : 6.75 x 5.3 x 0.45 inches; 3.2 Ounces
- Director : Mike Newell
- Media Format : Widescreen
- Run time : 2 hours and 7 minutes
- Release date : February 5, 2019
- Actors : Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, Michael Madsen
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
- Studio : Sony Pictures Home
- ASIN : 631763257X
- Number of discs : 2
- Best Sellers Rank: #79,580 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- #5,774 in Action & Adventure Blu-ray Discs
- Customer Reviews:
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 19, 2022
Most of the movie is about the relationship between Brosco and Lefty. Lefty befriends him, brings him into the family, and acts as his mentor and protector. The two form a real bond, which will cause problems for Brosco later on because he’s a cop and his job is to get everyone he knows in the family arrested.
Undercover work causes other problems for Brosco as well. He can never see his family which causes great problems with his wife and little kids. There are many times when he feels like he will be found out and get killed by the family. It’s a very stressful experience.
Another part of the film is about the mafia lifestyle. Family members, made men, the fear that members have of getting whacked, cutting up bodies, etc. are all touched on. Many of these types of films have been accused of glorifying the mafia lifestyle. This movie definitely doesn’t do that.
My only complaint about DONNIE BRASCO is that it's too short and light. Another fifteen minutes of screen time would have deepened the characters immensely. DONNIE BRASCO doesn't do a great job of capturing the ambience of the late 70s, but it's a relatively minor flaw in an otherwise impressive picture. Overall, with its renditions of petty thievery, (breaking open parking meters for change), cheap shot extortion (putting muscle on Mom-and-Pop corner grocery stores for a few hundred bucks a week) and constant pointless but violent arguments, the timbre of DONNIE BRASCO reflects Mean Streets more than The Godfather .
There's no romance in DONNIE BRASCO's Mafia. Depp plays Federal Agent Joe Pistone, who is tasked with infiltrating the Bonnanno Family in late 1970s New York City. Using the alias "Donnie Brasco," Pistone befriends low-level torpedo Lefty Ruggerio (Al Pacino), who is permanently rooted near the bottom of the Family food chain. The dynamic "Brasco" however, soon attracts the attention of crew boss Sonny "Black" Napolitano (Michael Madsen), who begins moving Brasco (and himself) up through the ranks. A disappointed Lefty is left behind, although Brasco/Pistone tries mightily to maintain his links with Lefty if for no other reason than they've become friends.
The strain of leading his double life puts Pistone at terrible risk. His marriage collapses and his personal family life becomes a shambles. He begins to adopt street talk, to hit his wife, and to put his Family before his family. He is forced into committing minor crimes as part of his cover, and assists in chopping up and burying the bodies after a hit. He's recognized by a law-and-order colleague whom he punches out in order to protect himself. Still, there is much in the camaraderie of the Family that Pistone appreciates. Eventually, as he tells his wife, "I'm not like them---I am them." Just as he's about to become a made guy, the FBI swoops in and arrests everyone, shutting down his undercover operation.
Pistone's activities send roughly one hundred mobsters to jail, and earn him a medal, a commendation, and a $500.00 bonus check, and a deep ambivalence toward his work and his life.
After watching DONNIE BRASCO, I found myself questioning whether, given the crummy quality of the mob as portrayed, the risk and expense of breaking up "organized crime" was at all worth it. It seems like a lot of effort for a few dozen yards of chintz.
The thing that really captured me the first time I saw this movie was that it was a very well direct and solid production. However, the one thing that makes me keep watching it over and over again has to be Lefty's character and what he has to go through... he is probably one of the most hard working members of the crew but is the first one to be overlooked and his personal life is no picnic either... even though he is a criminal, you will find yourself sympathizing with him and his situation. Especially when he begins to complain about it and how he is the one who is always being swept to the side, especially in the scene where he tries to meet the boss of Miami... that, for me was a real heartbreaking scene. You can't help sympathizing with Lefty even more because this movie was based on a true story.
I guess now Al Pacino has played mafia characters at the two extreme ends of the mafia hierarchy from family head to solider.
Johnny Depp's character also gained my sympathy where it got to the point where he was struggling to balance his home and family with his own sympathy for Lefty and his duty towards his job.
I guess what I like about this movie is that it looks at gangsters and mafiosos as people in the end and that they are not devoid of their feelings and hardships... it is as if the director is trying to portray gangsters as people who are just trying to make a living (in their own different way) and are no different from your average working Joe who has to put up with the usual office politics and has to play the corporate game to get a promotion or a raise and meets with great disappointment and frustration..
Overall, a great movie with great suspense, however does require close attention to the dialogue and events of the movie to fully appreciate the plot.
"you said it yourself, you don't get uped, you're always looking over your shoulder... get out of this life is all I'm saying!" Donnie Brasco, A.K.A. Joe Pistone, A.K.A. Johnny Depp.
Top reviews from other countries
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
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on May 12, 2015