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Donnie Brasco (1997)

Crime | 127 minutes / 147 minutes (extended cut)
3,93 4.996 votes

Genre: Crime / Drama

Duration: 127 minuten / 147 minuten (extended cut)

Country: United States

Directed by: Mike Newell

Stars: Al Pacino, Johnny Depp and Michael Madsen

IMDb score: 7,7 (331.647)

Releasedate: 27 February 1997

Donnie Brasco plot

"Based on a true story."

Based on a true story, the film follows FBI agent Joe Pistone infiltrating the New York mafia. Under the name Donnie Brasco, he makes several friends, and he soon manages to work his way up into Sonny Black's mafia family. However, the undercover work is slowly becoming too much for Pistone. His marriage is on the rocks, and the mafia thinks a mole is present.

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Full Cast & Crew

Actors and actresses

Donnie Brasco / Joseph D. 'Joe' Pistone

Benjamin 'Lefty' Ruggiero

Dominick 'Sonny Black' Napolitano

Nicholas 'Nicky' Santora

Maggie Pistone

Richard 'Richie' Gazzo

Dr. Berger

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avatar van IH88


  • 8775 messages
  • 3087 votes

“A wise guy's always right; even when he's wrong, he's right.”

Donnie Brasco is really a film that slowly gets under your skin and doesn't let go. The movie is a bit less "showy" than other mafia movies like Goodfellas or Scarface but takes its time to introduce all the characters and make their intentions clear before the story really gets going. Donnie Brasco is one big game of chess where different pawns (the FBI, the Mafia, Donnie, Lefty) want to outsmart each other. Add to that the troubled family life of an undercover cop and you have a film that never gets boring because of the conflicting interests and the tension that results. And the action scenes in it are hard and exciting.

Johnny Depp is great as undercover cop Donnie and it's interesting to see him in a (fairly) subdued role. Al Pacino is also unparalleled as Lefty and it is interesting to see him at the bottom of the ladder of a mafia syndicate. Lefty remains a tough gangster of course, but Pacino's game also makes you feel sorry for him. The way he sits on the chair in a tracksuit is fascinating to watch, if only for the fact that you're watching Pacino (Mr. Corleone, Mr. Montana). Madsen is doing his Madsen thing and that is looking tough and growling. But he does that with the best. Heche is reasonable, but the role of "nagging wife of" is a thankless one. The ending feels a bit rushed and the film left me with a somewhat dissatisfied feeling. Donnie Brasco focuses more on the family element of the mafia and that results in a decent, sometimes gruesome and almost intimate film. And with Depp and Pacino as eye-catchers.

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avatar van tbouwh


  • 5654 messages
  • 4967 votes

True, but I expected something more. I always find a plot in these parts interesting, were it not that I have seen everything before. Here, too, the narrative follows the necessary conventions, not least because Brasco's story once again has to be non-fictional. A (get 'em bit) Goodfellas wins it by distance, since this work usually has little to offer audiovisually and could also have been staged a bit more smoothly.

The quality is mainly in the solid renditions of the main cast; Al Pacino always charms me with these kinds of roles, Madsen just has to be his maniacal self, Depp confirms that he used to be more capable than today. Add to the constant tension that Brasco's undercover status brings with it, and I'm still at an acceptable 3.5*. By the way, I saw the long version, perhaps it is due to the fact that it was not equally tight everywhere in terms of pacing.

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avatar van Brabants


  • 2709 messages
  • 2027 votes

Donnie Brasco is a somewhat slow film, but a pleasure to watch with refined acting from a great box.

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