Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Drama The Godfather Part 3

The Godfather Part 3

Sixteen long years after the release of “The Godfather Part 2”, Paramount Pictures along with writer and director Francis Ford Coppola, and co-writer Mario Puzo, delivered to audiences the final chapter in one of the greatest cinematic sagas ever committed to film.

“The Godfather Part 3” finds Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) closer than ever to realizing his dream of transitioning his family into strictly legitimate business dealings. As a part of improving the public’s image of both he and his family, Michael is reaching out to the Catholic Church through the charitable donation of millions of his own dollars. Just as Michael has finally found a viable way out of the life of crime that he’s known for so many years, a rival gangster seeks to move in on the impending power vacuum Michael’s departure will undoubtedly leave behind. Yet this obvious power play may not come without its fair share of bloodshed. Enter Michael’s nephew Vincent (Andy Garcia), an up-and-coming mafia hood who wants nothing more than to protect his beloved uncle and preserve the legacy of the Corleone family for years to come.

For some reason, that I cannot wrap my head around, “The Godfather Part 3” is almost universally panned as being the weakest entry in the trilogy. Personally, I can’t figure out what the problem is with this movie that causes so many people to essentially loathe watching it. For me, no matter how many times I watch the film, and do my best to find some fault in it, I still walk away enjoying it as much as I did its two predecessors. Plus, I can’t seem to find any glaring problems with the film. Perhaps audiences just don’t respond well to the redemptive message inherent within the story, maybe there are just not enough darker elements, such as murder, betrayal, sadness, and despair to satisfy their typical mafia fix. Whatever the case may be, I doubt I will ever understand why this installment is so maligned by most viewers, but I digress.

Now, let’s talk about what I feel is the main focus of this final chapter in “The Godfather saga”. I believe the purpose of this third film is two-fold; first, it is an appropriate vehicle with which Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo nicely tie up any loose ends still left over from the initial two installments, while introducing us to a fascinating final act for the Corleone family. Second, “The Godfather Part 3” can almost be viewed as a thank you to the fans on behalf of the entire cast and crew of the series. What I mean by that is, after “The Godfather Part 2” there was a 16 year gap between films, hinting that perhaps the Corleone family’s story was finished, but by returning to the series for one more film the cast and crew reward the audience for their loyalty (and patience) to the franchise. Not to mention the film brings the entire story of Michael Corleone full circle in a very powerful, yet bittersweet sort of way.

Speaking of Michael’s character arc within this grand trilogy, there is a definite metamorphosis that Michael goes through over the course of his journey. In “The Godfather”, Michael is an idealistic young man, untainted by the dark world that his father and brothers belong to; however, over the course of that film certain events lead to Michael’s eventual baptism by fire into the underworld. Then we come to “The Godfather Part 2”, where the darkness that had once consumed his father and brothers has now consumed Michael completely, and the results of his decisions do not come without a cost. Finally, we arrive at “The Godfather Part 3” and the path he has chosen has resulted in so much death, despair, and loneliness that Michael finally is beginning to realize that perhaps the only way to find some measure of peace is to seek redemption for the sins of his past.

On a side note, as a fan of the entire series, I appreciate that this film’s story includes numerous nods and/or mentions to events that occurred in the previous films in the trilogy. When a film franchise references events within its own history, I find that to be an added bonus, and shows that those involved in the films take great pride in their work, and strive to further enrich the audience’s experience while watching them.

From an acting standpoint, this series continues to be one of the greatest examples of brilliant acting one could ever hope to witness. For Al Pacino and Diane Keaton, I’m surprised that they were still able to find new ground to cover with their respective characters. Al’s performance as Michael is more reserved and at times weary, yet still as emotionally charged as ever. Diane Keaton brings to Kay a quiet strength and an indomitable will power that at times rivals even that of Michael’s, a trait no doubt developed over the course of many years of dealing in his world. Also returning for a third go-round is actress Talia Shire (“Rocky” franchise) as Michael’s older sister, Connie. Finally, Talia is given a character arc that has much more substance to it than what she previously had been given, no doubt a rewarding turn of events for her as an actress. Talia’s arc was much different from that of the previous two films; no longer a victim of any kind, Connie is much more in charge, and accepting of the world that had consumed her entire family for the last two generations.

Newcomers to the franchise include the considerable talents of Andy Garcia, Bridget Fonda, Eli Wallach, and Joe Mantegna. Each of the new cast members brought a sense of newness to the film, something that each of these three films has surprisingly managed to do with every release. Andy Garcia was the standout performance for me out of the new members of the cast. His energetic performance harkened back to James Caan’s volatile character of Sonny from the original film, a character void that had never truly been filled by any other member of the cast within the series.

One thing is for certain after watching not only “The Godfather Part 3”, but the entire trilogy, is that no matter how glamorized the life of the mafia may appear to be (as shown by most movies dealing with the subject), this kind of lifestyle is not worth all the heartache, sadness, and death that surrounds everyone involved. It’s true that even “The Godfather” trilogy glamorized this life to an extent, but at the same time, each of the films took some time within their respective stories to reveal the consequences of the dark choices of life and death that these people make throughout their lives.

”The Godfather Part 3” is yet another triumphant piece of American cinema, expertly crafted by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, serving as the perfect final chapter in one of the most beloved film sagas of all time.

“The Godfather Part 3” is rated R for violence and language.

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