Looking at the filmography of Al Pacino is like looking at a list of the most acclaimed and influential films of the past several decades. Pacino is one of the most celebrated actors of all time and continues to be one of the most impressive performers in the business.
It’s strange to think any film Pacino is associated with could ever be considered underrated, but some fans have failed to discover some of his best films. Of course, the actor has also been in the occasional film that received more acclaimed than it deserved. Here are Al Pacino’s most underrated and overrated films.
10 Underrated: Donnie Brasco (1997)
Pacino has become an icon of the gangster genre, beginning with The Godfather films. Donnie Brasco is not as popular as some of his other classics in the genre, but it is certainly one of the best. Johnny Depp plays a real-life undercover agent who infiltrated the mob and befriended an aging gangster, played by Pacino.
Depp gives one of his best and most reserved performances in the lead while Pacino is surprisingly sympathetic as a man looking to make a name for himself. It is a tense and gripping thriller.
9 Overrated: The Godfather Part III (1990)
It seems strange to include The Godfather Part III on a list of overrated films as it is routinely mocked for being so inferior to the other entries in the trilogy. However, fans might forget that when it was released, the film actually received decent reviews and was even nominated for Best Picture.
It seems apparent that the initial love for the movie was more due to people’s anticipation of returning to the story rather than the quality of the film. It is a dull and even goofy continuation of the tale. While Pacino gives a fine performance, much of the cast falls far behind him.
8 Underrated: Scarecrow (1973)
Pacino teamed up with another stunning actor of his generation, Gene Hackman, in the criminally overlooked gem, Scarecrow. The pair play drifters making their way across the country in hopes of building a future for themselves.
Despite the immense talents of the leads, the film didn’t get much attention when it was released and has yet to really find its audience. But it remains a great film with stunning performances from Pacino and Hackman, who work so well together.
7 Overrated: The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
As his career went on, Pacino began embracing more sinister roles, including this one in The Devil’s Advocate. Keanu Reeves plays a lawyer who is recruited by a big city firm, led by John Milton (Pacino). As the lawyer is taken under Milton’s wing, he begins to suspect there’s more to his mentor than meets the eye.
The movie was a hit and people seemed to be taken with the dark morality tale. But it is a predictable and quite silly story. Reeves’ performance is scattered and Pacino is just hamming it up, which doesn’t always work with the dark material.
6 Underrated: Dick Tracy (1990)
The classic comic strip Dick Tracy was brought to life by Warren Beatty who also stars as the yellow trenchcoat-wearing detective. The stylish period film follows Tracy as he battles the criminals of his city, including crime boss Big Boy Caprice (Pacino).
Though not talked about nearly enough, Dick Tracy is a blast of a comic book movie. Beatty really embraces the weird style of the comics and Pacino’s over-the-top performance is so much fun.
5 Overrated: Any Given Sunday (1999)
Pacino teamed with controversial director Oliver Stone to explore the world of the NFL. The actor plays a football coach dealing with a variety of obstacles, including an aging quarterback, an arrogant new star, and a new team owner.
With the combination of Pacino, Stone, and this interesting setting, not to mention a stunning cast, one would think this would make for a thrilling sports drama. However, the story is not very exciting at all, and Stone’s stylistic choices are often distracting.
4 Underrated: Insomnia (2002)
Before Christopher Nolan was helming huge blockbusters, he was still making a name for himself with quiet thrillers. Insomnia finds Pacino playing an L.A. detective who is brought to a small Alaskan town to investigate the murder of a local young woman.
Even once Nolan’s fame rose, Insomnia remained his least talked-about film, which is a shame. It is a gripping mystery with a unique setting and a fantastic central performance from Pacino as a haunted cop. Robin Williams also gives one of his best performances in the film.
3 Overrated: Scarface (1983)
Perhaps Pacino’s most iconic role is that of Tony Montana in Brian De Palma’s Scarface. The crime epic follows the rise to power of this Cuban immigrant, who becomes one of the most powerful drug lords in Miami.
Pacino’s antihero at the center of the story has resonated with many fans over the years. However, the film is a tonal mess, bouncing back and forth between hard-hitting crime drama to cartoonishly over-the-top action film. It makes Scarface a hard movie to take seriously.
2 Underrated: The Insider (1999)
Pacino reteamed with Michael Mann, the director of Heat, for this gripping true story. The Insider stars Russell Crowe as a researcher at a tobacco company who decides to blow the whistle on their dark secrets, making him a target.
Pacino plays a producer on the news program 60 Minutes who works with Crowe to expose the truth. The film is a fascinating look at investigative journalism as well as the terrifying side of corporate America. Both Crowe and Pacino are sensational.
1 Overrated: Scent Of A Woman (1992)
Pacino finally won an Oscar for his commanding performance in Scent of a Woman. The film follows a young prep school student who agrees to help out a blind and retired army colonel for some extra money. The job is far from what he imagined.
Pacino does not hold back with his performance, and while it is certainly the best part of the movie, it is far from his best work. The rest of the movie is an overlong and cheesy melodrama that was somehow nominated for Best Picture.
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