A tale of greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two best friends: a mafia enforcer and a casino executive, compete against each other over a gambling empire and over a fast living and fast loving woman.
In the midst of trying to legitimize his business dealings in New York and Italy in 1979, aging Mafia don Michael Corleone seeks to avow for his sins while taking his nephew Vincent Mancini under his wing.
This true story follows FBI agent Joe Pistone as he infiltrates the mafia of New York. Befriending Lefty Ruggiero, Pistone (under the name Donnie Brasco) is able to embed himself in a mafia faction led by Sonny Black. Ruggiero and Pistone become tight as the group goes about collecting money for 'the bosses'. Eventually, the group become big-time when Black himself becomes a boss; all the while, Pistone collects evidence. However, the trials and tribulations of the undercover work become more than Pistone can bear. His marriage falls apart, and to top it off, the mafia suspect a mole in the organization. The real dilemma is afforded to Pistone, who knows if he walks away from the mafia, Ruggiero will be the one punished. Written by
P. Wong <email@example.com>
Donnie bets his kids twenty dollars that they can't get through breakfast without saying three words, and his daughter replies "you lose." The scene is based on a famous incident involving writer Dorothy Parker and President Calvin Coolidge, known as "Silent Cal" for his quiet manner and hatred of small talk. Parker, seated next to Coolidge, turned to him and said "Mr. Coolidge, I've made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you." Coolidge allegedly replied "You lose." See more »
When Brasco tries to call his wife, and discovers that the number has been disconnected, he dials area code 212, which is Manhattan. Pistone lives in Clifton, New Jersey; at the time, the area code was 201. See more »
Look at this hand. This ain't a hand. This is a fuckin deformed Creature from the Black fuckin Lagoon's claw I got here.
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With only one real scene of violence and mayhem in the film, Donnie Brasco relies far more on character development in a story of two men and the planned betrayal of one by another in the line of duty.
Johnny Depp plays real life FBI undercover agent Joe Pistone who infiltrates the Bonano crime family through the good offices of Lefty Ruggiero, a small time Mafia button man played by Al Pacino. During the five years undercover, Pistone who used the alias of Donnie Brasco was responsible for about 200 federal indictments because of the work he did. It took a terrible strain on him and his family as the film so aptly demonstrates.
It must have been like old home week for Johnny Depp who made his acting bones playing a youthful undercover cop in the television series 21 Jump Street. But the difference between Officer Tom Hanson going undercover for a couple of weeks at some high school and agent Pistone living and working with the wise guys for five years afraid of being found out is the difference between Donald Duck and Donald Trump.
Depp's performance as Pistone/Brasco is conveyed as much by body language and closeups as with dialog. He'd like very much to return to his wife and three daughters and live a normal life, but the demands of the job make it impossible. According to Wikipedia's article on Pistone he was uniquely qualified for his undercover assignment having lived and grown up among wise guys in New Jersey. He was familiar with all the Mafia culture and could blend in easily. The strain shows on him in his scenes with wife Anne Heche, only someone with a real gift for acting could make those scenes so real.
Depp is matched by Al Pacino as the luckless Lefty Ruggiero. In the Mafia code he vouches for Depp and if Depp betrays trust in any way, Pacino's marked for death.
Lefty Ruggiero is a hired killer with as he boasts 27 contract kills to his credit. Yet he's also a family man with a lot of problems as is Depp. Even though the man is in fact evil, Pacino does make him a likable sort. It's why Depp is dreading the day he's out from undercover because it means certain death for a man who's grown to be his friend.
Except when the crew that Depp and Pacino are part of do ambush a rival group before in fact they do it to them, Donnie Brasco is a fairly non violent film for a gangster story. Donnie Brasco emphasizes character development and a good script as opposed to bloody mayhem.
I think you'll like the story about a man who turned a friend into the biggest mutt in the history of the Mafia.
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