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Posing as jewel broker Donnie Brasco, FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone (Johnny Depp) is granted entranceinto the violent mob family of aging hit man Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino). When his personal and professional lives collide, Pistone jeopardizes his marriage, his job life and, ultimately, the gangstermentor he has come to respect and admire. From acclaimed director Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral), and featuring an extraordinary supporting cast including Michael Madsen, Anne Heche, BrunoKirby and James Russo.
Based on a memoir by former undercover cop Joe Pistone (whose daring and unprecedented infiltration of the New York Mob scene earned him a place in the federal witness protection program), Donnie Brasco is like a de- romanticized, de-mythologized version of The Godfather. It offers an uncommonly detailed, privileged glimpse inside the world of organized crime from the perspective of the little guys at the bottom of Mafia hierarchy rather than from the kingpins at the top. Donnie Brasco is not only one of the great modern-day gangster movies to put in the company of The Godfather films andGoodFellas, but it is also one of the great undercover police movies--arguably surpassing Serpico and Prince of the City in richness of character, detail, and moral complexity. Donnie (Johnny Depp, a splendid actor) is practically adopted by Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino), a gregarious, low-level "made" man who grows to love his young protégé like a son. (Pacino really sinks into this guy's skin and polyester slacks, and creates his freshest, most fully realized character since his 1970s heyday.) As Donnie acclimates himself to Lefty's world, he distances himself from his wife (a terrific Anne Heche) and family for their own protection. Almost imperceptibly his sense of identity slips away from him. Questioning his own confused loyalties, unable to trust anybody else because he himself is an imposter, Donnie loses his way in a murky and treacherous no-man's land. The film is directed by Mike Newell, who also headed up Four Weddings and a Funeral and the gritty, true crime melodrama Dance with a Stranger. --Jim Emerson
Stills from Donnie Brasco (click for larger image)
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- Aspect Ratio : 2.40:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medNotRated Unrated (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 7.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches; 3.84 Ounces
- Item model number : 18693
- Director : Mike Newell
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
- Run time : 2 hours and 27 minutes
- Release date : May 8, 2007
- Actors : Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, Bruno Kirby, Michael Madsen, James Russo
- Dubbed: : Japanese
- Subtitles: : English, French
- Producers : Barry Levinson, Mark Johnson, Gail Mutrux, Louis DiGiaimo
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Unqualified
- Studio : Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- ASIN : B000NHG7BG
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #150,937 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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"Donnie Brasco" stars Al Pacino and Johnny Depp, and was directed by Mike Newell ("Four Weddings and a Funeral"), It tells the story of FBI Special Agent Joseph D. Pistone (played by Johnny Depp), who successfully infiltrated one of New York's great Mafia families in the late 1970s, and spent six years undercover, gathering vital intelligence that was used by the U.S. Justice Department to severely diminish the Mafia's power throughout the country. Posing as Donnie Brasco, a jewel thief, Pistone was befriended by Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggerio (played by Al Pacino) , a low-level soldier in the Bonanno crime family. So successful was Pistone in penetrating the Bonanno family, that he was actually proposed to become a Mafia "made man" shortly before the FBI terminated "Operation Donnie Brasco" in 1981.
"Donnie Brasco" is certainly different than your "average" gangster flick. Instead of focusing on the rich and powerful Mafia crime lords, this film depicts life in the lower echelons of organized crime in New York, mostly through the eyes of "Lefty" Ruggerio. Here's a man who's at best an average "earner," but who's filled with ambition. He is frustrated when he's continually passed over for promotion by younger, less experienced men. When he befriends "Donnie Brasco" (Pistone), he quickly develops a strong fatherly affection for the younger man. For his part, Donnie Brasco becomes so emotionally entangled with the people he's investigating (especially Ruggerio) that he begins to lose sight of why he's there: to help bring these criminals to justice.
"Donnie Brasco" is a reasonably accurate portrayal of Pistone's experiences within New York's Mafia. It is very well acted, with especially brilliant performances from Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, Michael Madsen, and Anne Heche. The language is raw, there are graphic scenes of violence, and a few liberties are taken with historical facts, (most notably the fate of Ruggerio), but none of that in any way detracts from the film's entertainment value. The Extended Cut of "Donnie Brasco" adds about 20 minutes to the film's runtime, with scenes added so seamlessly that I found it nearly impossible to tell the difference from the original theatrical release.
"Donnie Brasco" is an excellent film in every way. Highly recommended.
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.
The movie is pretty good and so are the excellent performances by cast especially Al Pacino playing the part as lefty Ruggiero Mafia hit man and Jonny Depp as the undercover agent Joseph D. Pistone Alias Donnie Brasco , The DVD is just as good if not better with special features : directors commentary , exclusive featurette , Donnie Brasco out from the shadows , deleted scenes with optional commentary , original featurette , photo gallery , talent files , theatrical trailers and pamphlet that's not included in the Blu Ray than again for the price is Good value .
I love the Godfather but sometimes I get a little sick about how some movies portray gangsters as romantic rebels. When in fact most were backstabbing murderers, pimps, and drug dealers.
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