Serpico ★★★★½

My Dad was spurred to watch this with me after we caught a short interview with the real Frank 'Paco' Serpico as part of a whistleblower segment on HBO's Axios. A fan of the classic Pacino starrer, he wanted me to witness the harrowing tale of an honest man coming to grips with the fact that his lifelong dedication to serving the greater good would not develop the way he had expected.

Al Pacino is a knockout as our honest-to-goodness hero. The way he and Sydney Lumet make Paco a flawed character worth rooting for despite what could easily have been a heavy-handed portrayal is remarkable. Every beat in Serpico feels earned and that's in part due to a tight, absorbing script and some terrific cinematography (see: claustrophobic closeups during Serpico's intense interactions with rattled crooked cops).

Lumet is rightfully considered a master of his craft and this film is chock full of reasons why. It's enthralling stuff that meticulously escalates, wringing tension out of mundane scenarios. It's even got some wry humor sprinkled throughout. For my money, this is among the greatest biopics ever made and certainly a film that does its subject proud. Highly recommended.

Scavenger Hunt 56 14/30 - 18) Happy Birthday to my favourite British gentleman, MY DAD. Watch a film from his Top 100 List

2019 Watchlist Ranked