When exactly did Al Pacino sell out? Oh, we love him too, but there’s no denying the icon’s script-screening has taken a nose dive of late. Throughout the ’70s, Pacino appeared in just eight films – less than one a year – each performance a carefully weighed, Stanislavski-inspired labour of love; at least four of those films have gone down as all-time classics.
In the last 10 years Pacino has made nearly twice as many films (we count 15), seemingly farming out his iconic stature and gravelly tones to the highest bidder in everything from Ocean’s Thirteen to Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill. And knocking out as many as three movies a year, Pacino clearly isn’t investing a fraction of the time as he did when, say, he spent weeks shadowing undercover cops before playing Serpico.
So when exactly did Al Pacino sell out? The answer is 1989. After four years off screen for good (he made just five films in the ’80s), he returned with the mildy-diverting, cringely-sexualised cop thriller Sea of Love, before playing Big Boy in Dick Tracy a year later. Then, having lowered his critical radar, post-hiatus Pacino threw himself back onto the screens like a careless child, acting in as many films in the ’90s as he had in the rest of his career to date (and no doubt banking a packet). Yet this period brought some of his best work. While not rivalling his ’70s output in consistency, Pacino’s performances in The Godfather Part III (1990), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), Scent of a Woman (1992), Carlito’s Way (1993), Heat (1995). Donnie Brasco (1997) and The Insider (1999) are enough to make any other actor weep.
Despite the increased work rate, Pacino’s critical nadir came later – his apperance in laughable 2002 sci-fi comedy S1m0ne was the sell out moment. His next dozen films are forgettable – perhaps only The Recruit (2003) deserves a second viewing – and things are only set to get worse. Opening this week in the UAE is Pacino’s latest, cop-thriller The Son of No One, has been universally panned, picking up one-star reviews from our colleagues in Time Out New York and Time Out Chicago. Keith Ulrich, a critic at the former title, notes: ‘Even the presence of heavy hitters like Al Pacino can’t bolster Dito Montiel’s lurid and bathetic policier.’
And his next move? Supplying a voiceover for kids’ animation Despicable Me 2. Now into his 72nd year, we’ve given up waiting for another decent Al Pacino movie. So, instead of wasting your cash at the cinema on The Son of No One, hit the DVD shop and remind yourself why Pacino is regarded as one of the greatest actors of all time with something from our top 10. And no, Scarface didn’t make the cut…
Have your say
We asked our 25,000 Twitter followers to tell us their top Pacino films. These are the results…
‘I love Donnie Brasco – such a cool film and amazing styling.’
‘Based on his performances: Godfather Pt 1; Sea Of Love; Heat; Godfather Pt 2; and Scarface.’
‘Scarface, and it’s the bestbecause I tell the truth even when I lie.’
‘Seriously? You need to ask? Tony must be rolling in his grave.’
‘There r so many, literally! Glengarry Glen Ross, Scarface, Godfather, Carlito’s Way, Devils Advocate, Heat…’
‘The Godfather 2 and Heat.’
‘Miracle of Godfather – all three parts. Can’t forget how he acts when his daughter dies in part 3.’
Click here for our top 10 Al Pacino movies of all-time