Donnie Brasco (1997) Review


Donnie is an FBI agent who is deep undercover with the mob and finds that he actually relates more to the mafia life than his own. His morals are pushed well and truly to the limit as he grows the bond and trust with Lefty. 


Based on a very true story of Joe Pistone who infiltrates on of the mafia families in New York. Changing his name to Donnie Brasco he becomes friends and very close with Lefty Ruggiero and becomes embedded in the fraction led by Sonny Black. Everything for the group is pretty small as they collect money for the bosses but its about to become bigger when Sonny becomes a boss himself. Joe/Donnie is pushed to the limits when the double life he has been living cannot co-exist and he pushes his wife and children away. Everything becomes even more serious when the mafia suspect a mole within.

This really is a truly intense film as you watch wondering just when they are going to work out that Donnie is actually FBI. This certainly makes for some very entertaining moments and that makes it very watchable. I was actually quite surprised by the film as never really thought about watching it. Which is a little bit crazy considering Al Pacino and Johnny Depp take the leading roles with support from Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby and James Russo. Which creates a very strong cast and support.

As a viewer it pushes you to the limits as well wondering if you would sympathise with a mobster when getting to know them. As Donnie got closer to Lefty he was wrapped up in this new life and world. He would do anything for him and vice versa this was when you knew he was really in trouble! Even though the fact it was based on a true story meant that the outcome was pretty obvious it did not take away any of the tension and/or drama.

Johnny Depp’s leading performance was very impressive as he was essentially playing two very different characters throughout the film who were then brought together when it came to the choices he had to make! Giving him the chance to show some good acting, in particular the first moment you realise that he is actually enjoying the mob life during a shooting. Al Pacino is always great right? Well its hard to argue against that and it is no different in this film either. Sharing some great scenes with Depp which is a joy to watch. Michael Madsen and Bruno Kirby were both impressive and the standout in the supporting roles.

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