Classic. That's basically what I think about Serpico - it's a classic. This is evidently one of the first (if not the) serious police corruption movies. It's really good. Now I understand why Al Pacino has a reputation as such a great actor. Lately, after seeing movies like Oceans 13, Two for the Money, and The Recruit, I haven't been too too impressed with him. Also , evidently he was in Gili?! Never saw it. But Serpico is Pacino at his best. He does a fantastic job.
Sidney Lumet directed Serpico. This guy is old school. He's been directing since the '40s. And since this movie was made in '73, it has a much slower pace than audiences today have come to expect. Once you get into the tempo (which doesn't take long) the movie flows fairly smoothly. And Lumet has proved that he can cater to our need for speed with Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. It's one of those movies that's kind of good, but not really recommendable. Seriously, don't see it.
Just a quick warning. Don't go into this expecting the same edge of your seat drama that cop movies deliver today. I know I've already talked about Serpico's pacing, but this is a different issue. This movie is about a character - it's about Frank Serpico (who's evidently a real guy).
Also, Charlie from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia does a shockingly good Serpico impression (the full episode can be viewed at hulu.com here, although you'll need to create a fee account because the show's TV rating for "language" and "mature themes") Here's a short youtube clip of Charlie as Serpico (sidenote: Charlie has documented cases of illiteracy and a learning disability):
Final Grade: A-
Blurb: Serpico is a slow moving but well-structured crime drama that has worn well. Al Pacino is at his best. It's worth your time to see the grandfather of police corruption movies.