Tuesday, October 23, 2012

#799. The Godfather Part III (1990)

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 saga, 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 move would not only solidify the family’s assets, but, in one fell swoop, also wipe clean the Corleone name, as if its violent history never happened.

Unfortunately for Michael, the old ways of doing business aren’t quite through with him yet. Flashy gangster Joey Zasa (Joe Mantegna) is making a move to gain power within the organization, and will happily step over Michael 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 leaving 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 has proven he has the stamina to get the job done. But will Vincent’s fiery temper ultimately cloud his judgment, and lead the Corleone clan down the path of 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 mild nuisance, a throwback to the old days. Yet Michael is in too deeply, and escaping the “organization” he ran for so long is simply not an option.

Coppola gives us a strong 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.

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 (Sofia was a last-minute replacement when Winona Ryder dropped out late to make Edward Scissorhands). Yet the film’s deficiencies don’t hinder the overall experience.

Watching The Godfather Part III is 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 tale of the Corleone family is perhaps the most epic in American cinematic history, and The Godfather Part III brings the story to a fitting end.


James Robert Smith said...

Maybe the second-worst big budget film I've ever seen. I never have been able to sit through it all. Exceeded in awfulness only by PROMETHEUS.

billichthomas2@gmail.com said...


Yasin Adam Pinetown said...

This sequel is necessary in order to bring closure to this family saga. Although flawed especially by Sofia Copolla's casting it is still essential viewing