Length: 162 minutes
Release Date: December 25, 1990
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Genre: Crime / Drama / Mystery
“The Godfather Part III” is the final installment in “The Godfather” franchise. In the third installment, mafia kingpin Michael Corleone tries to transform his empire to offset the choices he made earlier in his life. Despite his good intentions, Corleone ends up paying a price for his previous transgressions and sets off a series of events that results in the death of his friends and enemies.
“The Godfather Part III” is set in 1979 when Michael Corleone is 60 and unable to forget the things he did to build his empire. After retiring from the mafia, Corleone has dedicated his life to charity, which culminates with him being named as the Commander of the Order of St. Sebastian. Vincent Mancini, the illegitimate son of Michael’s brother Sonny, shows up at the ceremony and starts a fight with Zasa – a man who works for Michael. Later that night Zasa orders two men to kill Vincent, but the pair fails and is murdered by Vincent. After he tells Michael what happened, Michael decides to become a surrogate father to Vincent.
Corleone then turns his attention to finalizing one of his largest business transactions to date. He attempts to purchase the Vatican’s shares of a company called Immobiliare. After acquiring the shares, Michael will have a controlling interest in the company. Before the deal is finished, members of the commission contact Michael and tell him they want to be a part of the deal. Michael is determined not to involve the mafia but agrees to meet with the other bosses. However, before the meeting is adjourned, a helicopter loaded with armed men appears and a storm of bullets are fired into the meeting, killing everyone except Vincent, Michael and his bodyguard.
Several days later, Vincent and Mary begin a relationship. The two create a plan to get revenge on Zasa for putting a hit out on Vincent. They soon put their plans into action, and Vincent shoots Zasa, killing him. Soon after, Michael takes his family to Sicily for a vacation. There, he learns that the Immobiliare deal was just a ploy to steal his money. He is then nearly assassinated by a man named Mosca. Instead of Michael, Don Tommasino – a family friend – is murdered.
Back at home, Michael prepares to attend his son Anthony’s first opera performance. During the performance, Vincent orders several hits on his enemies and Mosca returns to make a second attempt on Michael’s life. Before the night is over, someone close to Michael is killed.
Unlike in the previous films, Al Pacino plays a much more introspective character who is determined to buy forgiveness and clean up the reputation of his family. His portrayal is altogether convincing, and some of the best scenes in the movie are when he reflects on his life. The emotions that drive Pacino’s character come across as authentic and ultimately heartbreaking.
Andy Garcia, who plays Vincent, does a great job creating a character who quickly evolves from a jaded illegitimate son to the new head of the Corleone family. Garcia strikes a great balance, making his character reckless but with the capacity for ruthless control.
Although they do not play major characters in this installment, the performances of Diane Keaton, Talia Shire and Joe Mantegna are equally impressive.
The plot of “The Godfather Part III” is full of revenge and murderous plans to take out enemies. Although the storyline is very complex, there is just enough going on to fill the film’s staggering 162 minutes of screen time. Michael’s quest to rid his empire of corruption that ultimately sets him up for failure serves as the foundation for the series of subplots.
The Immobiliare deal is one of the most intriguing elements of all. The scheme to steal Michael’s money involves everyone from the pope to Don Altobello – one of the original members of the Commission. However, when the film reaches a climax during Anthony’s opera performance, the mafia world is turned completely upside down. Two separate villains set up multiple hits on characters in different locations across the world.
The events leading up to this point occur in such a way that the suspense builds naturally. Unfortunately though, the quick succession of murders is confusing to follow as the events happen simultaneously. The backdrop to these scenes is absolutely perfect and a clever way to end the film. The play Michael attends involves a murderous plot and revenge that mirrors the plot of the movie.
The only real downside to “The Godfather Part III” is that there is absolutely no way to fully understand the film without seeing the previous installments. Various characters from the first and second films make appearances, but their backgrounds are not fully explained. Additionally, Michael’s remorse for his actions cannot be completely understood. Much time is dedicated to the guilt he feels for organizing the death of his brother – Fredo – but that is the only transgression that is given any real focus.
As the film comes to a close, there is a montage that does partly connect the films – and the segments of Michael’s life – together. Fans of the franchise are given a concrete ending to the life of Michael Corleone. Although the film does not have a happy ending, it does fully explain the fates of the main characters.
Ultimately, “The Godfather Part III” is the perfect final chapter for the trilogy. New family leaders emerge and Michael struggles to leave his family better than how he entered it. Although the film is full of complex subplots that are at times hard to follow, all the events fit together and culminate in the only possible ending for Michael.
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