Movie Review – Serpico

Posted: June 16, 2013 in Movie Reviews
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Serpico by many is considered as Al Pacino’s best. He gets a hefty role in this movie. And like most of his movies here too he plays an individual who is afraid and is almost a loser. The opening credits are brilliant with police siren and Serpico sitting in the car like an accused. Only when he is taken to the hospital we come to know that he’s a policeman. The whole movie happens in a flashback mode.


We see a young Serpico gunning down a couple of people who try to rape a lady. When the lady is taken to police custody we see a lot of hungry eyes looking at the lady. Right from there the tone of the movie is set. We could see that Al is going to suffer with the police officials.  And that’s what happens. Serpico succeeds in every assignment he’s given to. He thinks that he’s a successful policeman. He starts partying, goes out with a girl and lives a high life.

Though he is proud of being a policeman in the beginning he gets wary of the title as time flies by. He wants to be a normal man. He wants to be like any normal individual of his age. Like the hippies he starts growing beard and parties with his new found girl friend. I loved the scene where he was introduced as a policeman in the party and the crowd becomes a little skeptical. The lady is so proud of having a policeman as his boyfriend but at the same time Serpico is tired of the title. He sees people getting distant from him because he’s a policeman.

His superior calls him for investigation one day. At a juncture when everyone expects a punishment he gets a plainclothes assignment. He’s happy that he’s out of his monotonous work. At first he takes keen interest and starts conning the thieves. He being an undercover cop is not known by many people. He is shocked to find that his kin is involved in more criminal activities than the actual criminals. This brings more hatred towards his job.

After that is what Serpico is special. When you start hating what you loved the most things could turn tough for you. He finds out how ugly a job he is in. He has to question the whole system. He knows that it’s practically impossible. What could he do next? He directs his anger towards his loved ones, towards himself and everyone he encounters.

Serpico is taken as a scapegoat to a spot where they almost make him die. The scene where he is shot is highly horrific. That gunshot achieves what 3D nowadays so desperately tries to achieve. It takes us back when he’s shot straight in the face. But luckily he survives and testifies the police for being corrupt.

This could have been even my favorite film but Al started to get monotonous for me. For me Al’s best film is Donnie Brasco, he does what he does best there. Dog Day Afternoon comes second because I’ve not seen him in a comic role before. But every one of his films has this sad overtone to his character. I’m not sure how intentionally those roles were chosen but anything after a point becomes boring. That’s why Serpico didn’t engage me. May be I saw this movie right at the wrong moment. I hated Scent of a Woman too. Even if everyone calls it a great movie I could stand by my decision. It’s not the case with Serpico. I could sense there was something good in the movie; only thing is it didn’t work for me.


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