Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Andy Garcia
Tag line: "All the power on earth can't change destiny"
Trivia: The first of only two trilogies to have all three films nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture
Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part III is more a reunion than a sequel. While it never rises to the same level of artistry as its predecessors, The Godfather Part III is nonetheless an interesting conclusion to the Corleone family story, and as a fan of the first two films, this alone makes it a worthwhile experience.
Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is closer than ever to realizing his dream of bringing the Corleone family into the world of legitimate business. With the backing of Vatican Archbishop Gilday (Donal Donnelly), Michael makes a bid to take control of an age-old European conglomerate known as International Immobiliare. Such a bold move would not only solidify the family’s assets, but also, in one fell swoop, wipe clean the Corleone name, as if its violent history never happened. Unfortunately for Michael, the old ways of conducting business aren’t through with him just yet. First off, flashy gangster Joey Zasa (Joe Mantegna) is making a move to gain power within the organization, and will happily step over Michael’s corpse to get it. Then, to add insult to injury, Michael discovers through his dealings with the director of Immobiliare, Don Lucchesi (Enzo Robutti), that the “legitimate” business world is just as corrupt, just as dangerous as the one he’s trying to leave behind. Having grown weary of it all, Michael strongly considers turning the family business over to someone else, namely Vincent Mancini (Andy Garcia), the illegitimate son of his late brother, Sonny, who’s proven he has the stamina to get the job done. But will Vincent’s fiery temper ultimately cloud his judgment, thus leading the Corleone clan down the path to ruin?
With The Godfather Part III, director Francis Ford Coppola brings his larger-than-life story of crime and power full circle. As in the first Godfather, we watch an aging Don step aside so that a younger man can take his place. Tired of the violence, Michael does his best to avoid gangsters like Joey Zasa, who he sees as little more than a throwback to the old days. Yet Michael’s in too deeply, and escaping the “organization” he’s belonged to for so long is simply not an option. Coppola gives us a good sense of Michael’s disillusionment throughout the film, a big change from the Michael Corleone of Parts I and II, the cold, manipulative, ruthless mafioso who single-handedly guided the family into a new era of prosperity. By The Godfather Part III, he can't bear the pressure any longer.
To be sure, The Godfather Part III has its problems. Michael’s daughter, Mary, is played by Sofia Coppola, whose performance is feeble, to say the least, and as a result, an entire side story concerning her love affair with Vincent never gathers any steam. Yet the film’s deficiencies don’t hinder the overall experience. Watching this movie was like catching up with old friends and meeting some new ones, characters as wonderfully fleshed-out as any from the previous two entries (Eli Wallach gives a bravado performance as Don Altobello, an old acquaintance of Michael’s who might also be an enemy).
The epic tale of the Corleone family is perhaps the most intriguing in American cinematic history, and The Godfather Part III brings their story to a fitting end.