Corleone - The Life of a Gunfighter
16 years is a long time not just in life but also when it comes to the movie world and sequels. A lot can change in 16 years, what audiences want, filming styles and of course characters will have grown older. And so I come to "The Godfather: Part III" which arrived 16 years after the first sequel and sadly didn't wow audiences in the same way both "The Godfather" and "The Godfather: Part II" did. Yet Ironically "The Godfather: Part III" is not a bad movie, the concept is good taking the story almost full circle but it is both flawed and by no means as stylish and as layered as the originals.
Time has passed and Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is on the verge of legitimizing the family interests having sold the casinos and passed on other business interests to Joey Zasa (Joe Mantegna). And being on the verge of finally become legitimate Michael is trying to buy into Immobiliare, the business side of the Vatican. But it seems like the past is never going to let go and having taken Sonny's illegitimate son Vincent (Andy Garcia) under his wing finds that trouble resurfaces as Zasa tries to muscle in on more than what is his and some people don't want Michael to get his hands on Immobiliare.
How do you describe "The Godfather: Part III" when it comes to story, well it is much simpler than the previous movies with a storyline which in some ways reminded me of an old gunfighter western. That probably sounds strange but a popular western storyline was about the hired gun who having grown tired of the life of a gun man and wants to stop, wants to live a peaceful life yet his past won't let him start a new and in many ways that is what we have in this third "Godfather" movie. So we have Michael who is on the cusp of finally making the business legit, he may now live in New York but he is no longer participating in gang affairs and has sold the casino element. But as with a Gunfighter Michael's past won't leave him alone, people expect certain things of him, want him to act in the same way that his father did and on a personal level is haunted by ordering the murder of his brother Fredo.
As such whilst we have a story which sees family issues and Michael trying to buy into Immobilaire, a huge Vatican run business, most of the emphasis of "The Godfather: Part III" is on Michael being so close to being out but being dragged back in to the world of the Mafia. As such we have trouble with Joey Zasa trying to make a name for himself as well as Vincent, the illegitimate son of Sonny, wanting to do things in the same hot headed manner that his father did. There is of course more and once again Michael finds his life threatened not only by someone who want his dead but by ill health as well. As such it is fair to say there is a lot going on but none of it is complex.
But whilst the storyline is good and does a nice job of alluding that life is a circle as we watch the story of the Corleone's go full circle with Michael growing old and allowing someone else to become head of the family, the subtlety which was a huge part of the previous movies is missing. It not so much serves everything up on a plate but in trying to show that life is a circle it over emphasises things. The whole first 30 minutes which sees Michael being honoured followed by a party borders on the corny as we have Connie singing the same song from the first movie, Johnny Fontane is there to sing and a family photo which Michael drags Vincent in to. And through out the movie it continues to over emphasise similarities, Anthony's resentment of his father and the family business is too forced as is Vincent trying to act like Sonny. It's a shame as the circle of life aspect is good as is the whole element of Michael never being able to move from the past but it's just too forced.
That aspect of being forced also comes from various characters such as when Michael and his family head to Sicily he visits his old friend Don Tommasino who still has bodyguard Calo working for him. In some ways it's nice, it provides a nice connection yet at the same time it is almost unbelievable as is the whole romantic subplot as Vincent falls for Mary, Michael's daughter, the less said about this the better. Even the big ending, no matter how emotional, still feels forced as it tries to mirror the big crescendos of the previous movies. In many ways for "The Godfather: Part III" to work it needed to alter the pattern of the story and not try so hard to mirror the previous movies so much.
But here is the real sticking point when it comes to "The Godfather: Part III" and that is the acting. Now those who return such as Al Pacino, Talia Shire and Diane Keaton all carry on the work of delivering believable characters, even those like Franco Citti as Calo which is a small part feel authentic. But then there are the new characters and whilst Eli Wallach is perfectly cast as Don Altobello there are times when his delivery almost feels forced, like he is almost a caricature. But Wallach looks like a star compared to some of the younger actors and whilst Andy Garcia does a reasonable job of giving Vincent a touch of Sonny it also borders on the corny. As for Sofia Coppola as Mary, well she looks the part but her lack of acting ability sadly shows when next to such talented actors and at times the hesitancy makes it very awkward and uneasy.
But the thing is that whilst "The Godfather: Part III" has flaws it is still a very good movie but seems worse because of what greatness it had to live up to. And for those who love both the first two movies will love the trip down memory lane as old footage is used again and we watch Michael showing Kay around Sicily. And to be very honest "The Godfather: Part III" is still a very beautiful movie, elements maybe forced but the styling is first rate especially when it comes to the crescendo.
What this all boils down to is that I like "The Godfather: Part III", in fact I like it a lot and whilst by no means as brilliant as the first two movies it is still a way above average movie. There are some obvious flaws which are annoying but with the storyline which basically shows life going full circle it is still wonderfully entertaining.