It starts with a muffled bang: Pacino's Serpico zoned out in the back of a car, slumped and bleeding from a gunshot to the face. Forget the physical damage: Pacino's unblinking, Perspex eyes say it all. Here's a hero concussed by life, flattened, blurred but still alert to a forbidding past. Clearly, the end of Serpico's journey is only the beginning...

Sticking to biopic procedure, director Sidney Lumet obliges by flashing back to a loose, flamboyant Serpico, shinning up the career ladder. Unfortunately, the rungs start sinking into the quicksand. Every one of his undercover allies are on the take in a ring of corruption that's permeated the NYPD. Serpico's crusade to expose the scam leads to isolation and paranoia...

This is one of Pacino's key performances. Unfortunately, for all its fuck-quacked dialogue and muscular sincerity, Lumet's system-shaker has lost much of its urgency, marred by a sprinkly `mamma mia' score and never drilling deep enough into Serpico's almost masochistic motivations. Even more credit to Pacino, then, for paving over the cracks - - voomy and fully fleshed, he's totally committed.

Film Details

  • tbc
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: January 1st 2003

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