Serpico (1973) Review


Based on the true story of Frank Serpico who was a cop in the 1960s and early 1970s in New York City, something he had always dreamed of doing to make a difference. He is considered dangerous by other cops when he refuses to take money and be part of the big corruption.


The opening scene is with Serpico being rushed to hospital in 1971, therefore everything building to that moment is done in flashback form and comes full circle back to that. I feel that was the best possible way to tell his story, considering how bad the shot was! When watching you need to keep reminding yourself that this is based on a true story and Frank Serpico is a very real person. The film released not long after these events as well is something quite remarkable as well.

When are taken through his career and how frustrated he has been with the lack of opportunities he has been given and called by the other cops for his lack of interest in taking bribes from the criminals on the streets. Which is so crazy that more cops are against him than on his side, that is something I found to be truly mind blowing. How can so many cops think it is perfectly fine to take extra money from criminal activity when they are the ones that are supposed to stop it from happening in the first place.

When he changes his appearance to having a moustache and growing his hair this does not go down well with his colleagues. When he requests a transfer after a misunderstanding and accusations against him, he is allowed to keep his hair and works the streets in his own clothes. It takes years for anything to be done despite plenty of promises to Frank after reporting on different situations.

It’s a very frustrating film to watch because it is shocking that this went on and I am sure it was not just a New York thing either. Corruption in those that are supposed to protect always hits the hardest. Al Pacino delivers a truly terrific performance, engaging and powerful as Serpico. Obviously it had to be given the title character and lead, everything running off him and that is something he does so very well. Making the character likeable to the viewer and hated by the corrupt cops. Deservedly nominated for an Oscar for his role as well, something that surprises me is that he has only won one Oscar!

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