Still the standard by which many New York movies are compared, this chronicles a bank robbery gone awry. As motivations are revealed, the robbery turns into a hostage situation and a media circus ensues. Based on a true story.
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My favorite Al Pacino film! One of only 5 films featuring the absolutely brilliant, incredibly sensitive actor's actor, John Cazale, and it may be his best performance. This one and Fredo in The Godfather. With Charles Durning and Chris Sarandon. My favorite line is when Pacino tells cop Durning, who is trying to persuade him to surrender: "Kiss Me. I like to be kissed when I'm getting fucked!"
Sonny's reference to the Attica Prison Riot of 1971 is a critical turning point where the catalyst of media can create a political melting pot to a hostage scene. Lumet's art of characterisation was to add contextual variables to coax the spectator to root for the unsympathetic protagonist; Sonny and Sal's plight is humanised to such a compelling degree, that it is hard not to perceive the criminals as victims...
Starting and finishing safely within boundaries of thriller genre, section bank-robbing, in its core a deeply human story, politically and socially engaged in a relating common-folk way. Tension between self-depreciating insecure individual(s) and cold-blooded obeying collectivism is reminiscent to many of Lumet's former and later movies. This one is highlighted by brilliant acting and unusual changes of pace.