Posing as jewel broker Donnie Brasco, FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone (Johnny Depp) is granted entrance into the violent mob family of aging hit man Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino). When his personal and professional lives collide, Pistone jeopardizes his marriage, his job life and, ultimately, the gangster mentor he has come to respect and admire.
For more about Donnie Brasco and the Donnie Brasco Blu-ray release, see Donnie Brasco Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on September 6, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
What is it about the Mafia that makes it such amazing fodder for films? Perhaps it is the fact that Mafia films give the average Joe a chance to take a look into a world that is filled with both fantasy and horror. It's a fascinating culture to observe - - thank God we can observe from the comfort of our own home theaters and not from the front lines of the mob scene itself!
Donnie Brasco is a different kind of Mafia film. Instead of focusing on mob bosses and the "honor" that surrounds them, we are instead submersed into the dark world of the mob underling. Joseph Pistone (Johnny Depp) is a young FBI agent assigned to infiltrate these mafia underlings headed up by Benjamin Ruggerio (Al Pacino). Ruggerio takes Pistone (now using the alias Donnie Brasco) under his wing and the two men form a very strong bond. As Pistone identifies more and more with his Mafia targets, his own family and life are put into peril.
The thin line between law enforcement and criminal behavior blurs in Donnie Brasco.
Donnie Brasco is a truly exceptional film. I have always admired the way director Mike Newell really finds depth in the characters of both Benjamin Ruggerio and Nicky (Bruno Kirby). These aren't just cookie-cutter mafiosos, but living, breathing characters with much more to them than their underworld day jobs. Al Pacino is a revelation here as his performance portrays a man that is conflicted in his work and is a true mentor to Donnie Brasco. I've seen several interviews with the real Joe Pistone over the years. While he certainly looks nothing like Johnny Depp, there's a certain something about his persona that Depp captures perfectly. All in all, if you haven't had the opportunity to see Donnie Brasco, I highly recommend the film. It is a fascinating look into Mafia families and the F.B.I. agents who risk their lives infiltrating them. It is worth noting that this extended cut of Donnie Brasco includes some twenty minutes of additional footage.
Donnie Brasco is presented in beautiful 1080p using the AVC compression codec. I found the film to have an extremely natural feel with a subtle, muted color palette. This transfer perfectly preserves subtle film grain without ever sacrificing detail. Every nuance of New York City, from the dark alleyways to the bright city streets is delicately rendered. I noticed no instances of edge enhancement, compression artifacts, banding or any other annoying picture anomalies. While I certainly can't claim to remember exactly how Donnie Brasco looked in theaters in 1997, I can't imagine it looking more perfect than it does here. Kudos to Sony for yet another startlingly phenomenal transfer of a catalog release.
Sony continues to offer an amazing sound experience in its Blu-ray releases by featuring uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio. Donnie Brasco benefits hugely from the PCM track by presenting the viewer with an aural experience that places you smack-dab in the middle of New York City. The subtle street sounds and low level hum of the city are amazingly represented here. I was constantly reminded of what it actually sounds like to be in New York City and it is a strange thing, indeed, to be reminded of that sound by a film. In addition to this amazing ambiance, this PCM track perfectly handles the short bursts of action that punctuate the film. In addition, the dialogue that drives this film is so accurately presented that every whispered line or shouted phrase is handled with a smoothness that always remains intelligible and clear.
-"Out of the Shadows"
Well, this is certainly a disappointment. The two features on this disc are utterly pointless. What they amount to, is the least amount of information we could be given regarding the actual history of the events that are presented in Donnie Brasco. In addition, we are given a strange Photo Gallery feature that flashes up scenes from the film set to music. This is a terrible set of extras for a film that absolutely begs for an in-depth examination.
Quite simply, Donnie Brasco shouldn't be missed. This is an exceptional film that has been given a flawless transfer by Sony. While the lack of extras is disappointing, it can't take away from the technical and dramatic excellence of this set.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) today announced that the blockbuster Bond title Casino Royale, released March 13 on Blu-ray Disc, has hit the 100,000 units shipped mark and is setting records at retail for greatest number of high-definition copies sold ...