Serpico Review

Honesty is the best policy

The film begins at a blistering pace and, despite unconventionally revealing the conclusion within the first moments, it remains entirely engrossing throughout. After a brisk start, the pace slows to a comfortable steadiness typical of the director and commonplace for a biographical film.

The narrative, adapted from non-fiction, focuses on the life of Frank Serpico and his illustrious career as an NYPD officer. Salt’s ellipsis-structured screenplay omits plenty of history, leaving only the truly interesting sequences of Serpico’s life. The ellipsis is so apparent that the film is almost episodic in approach and depicts various aspects of the thoroughly interesting character, from the dangers of his work as an undercover cop on the streets of New York to his lavish personal life.

Already boasting an enthralling screenplay and incredible construction, the film is also supported by a stellar lead performance from Al Pacino. As Serpico he captures the individuality and complexities of the ‘hippie officer’ presenting each with aplomb. While he may not produce these performances in contemporary cinema, more often than not starring as a parody of himself, Pacino was arguably the best actor of the seventies and his partnerships with Lumet only strengthen this argument.

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