Genre: Gangster Running Time: 2 hrs. 42 min.
Release Date: December 25th, 1990 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Francis Ford Coppola Actors: Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, George Hamilton, Bridget Fonda, Sofia Coppola, Raf Vallone, Donal Donnelly, Helmut Berger
lenty of time has passed between the making of the second “Godfather” film and the release of this third, largely attributed to conflicts in direction, money, interests, scripts, actors, paychecks, and more. Even though Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola once again share the screenplay, the result of all that creative and technical contention is a substantially decreased entertainment value. And, despite a hefty runtime, it seems devoid of interesting events. It’s as if the majority of the picture is simply filler to keep it at an expectedly epic-feeling length. The hype and anticipation for this final chapter practically guaranteed its failure, debuting 18 years after the release of “Part II.” And Sofia Coppola’s earth-shatteringly pitiful performance doesn’t help matters either.
“The only wealth in this world is children, more than all the money and power on earth.” It’s now 1979 in New York City as the film opens with a ceremony, this time initially without happy music or faces, along with a flashback to the last horrible deed carried out by the aging mafia don, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino). He’s tried to distance himself from the remnants of his criminal organization and clean up his public image, but his past won’t seem to let him go. It’s been eight years since he’s officially seen his remarried ex-wife Kay (Diane Keaton), and the two still disagree about the future of their children. His son Anthony (Franc D’Ambrosio) decides to pursue a career in music instead of finishing law school, and his daughter Mary (Sofia Coppola), who still values her father’s love, decides to flirt with her cousin Vincent Mancini (Andy Garcia), the son of Santino – blessed with a quick temper and hotheadedness like his father. Vincent is anxious to dispose of his opponents without a care for reprisals or consequences and he’s intent on becoming like Michael – complete with the power to dictate the fates of his friends and enemies.
Meanwhile, Joey Zasa (Joe Mantegna), a small-time enforcer, now owns what’s left of the Corleone empire in New York. He has a problem with Vincent and also with the Godfather, mainly where money is concerned. When he feels that Michael and his former casino and investment associates have given him a raw deal, Joey attempts to kill them all (with a handy helicopter and machinegun). Almost all of the old dons are murdered, forcing those that survived to strike a deal with Zasa. But Michael has other plans, all of which are interrupted by a diabetic stroke that results in a coma. As he recovers, his sister Connie Corleone Rizzi (Talia Shire) gets involved in the family affairs and orders a retaliatory strike against Zasa.
When the dust settles, Michael assigns Vincent to work for Don Altobello (Eli Wallach), a man he suspects of pulling strings against the Corleones and colluding with Zasa. To further complicate the story, Michael has been trying to use a Vatican-owned corporation, the International Imobiliare – a company with deep roots in European tradition – to take over a controlling portion of the Vatican’s influences. This accrues him even greater foes and a wealth of negative publicity, while also unveiling corruption and conspiracy among cardinals, archbishops, and a Vatican accountant.
Like the first film, this one makes use of a conclusion that cuts between a princely opera and riveting scenes of death and violence as the new don, Vincent, ties up all the loose ends of the family business. But the enjoyable similarities stop short when a love affair between Mary and her first-cousin becomes “dangerous” and also uncomfortably inappropriate. And then there’s Sofia Coppola, making a horrendous leading-role debut as perhaps the single most significant reason why “The Godfather Part III” was not nearly as well received as the previous two entries. Her dialogue is bland and her delivery is practically monotonic; her performance is so atrocious it makes taking the rest of the film seriously incalculably difficult. Nevertheless, this last chapter was nominated for a surprising seven Oscars and seven Golden Globes, though it won none of either. And, despite the film’s many, many faults, at least the music, composed by Carmine Coppola, is still incomparably grand.
– Mike Massie