Starring: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Running Time: 200 mins
The Godfather Part II is an American film and the sequel to The Godfather. Following Michael Corleone’s ascent to the head of the family, he strengthens his grip on power by establishing a brutal regime, and begins to expand his empire out to Las Vegas, Miami and Cuba. Meanwhile, the young Vito Corleone begins to establish the Italian-American crime underworld in the 1920s.
This is one of the greatest sequels of all time – to one of the greatest films of all time. It continues the enthralling saga of the Corleone empire and expands on what the first film did superbly, adding a darker tone and higher stakes, as well as further rounding out the story arc by giving us an insight into a story from a different time.
This film is split into two stories, one that tells the old story of Vito Corleone as a young man, and one about Michael Corleone’s rule in his family, each interwoven between one another throughout the film.
This is firstly brilliant because it creates a sense of a wider, more convincing world, as you get to see Vito’s background, something that provides for brilliantly interesting watching in a film that could have done exactly the same thing as the first, but gone on for far too long.
What’s more is that it’s a very appropriate tale to tell in the second movie, because it is a perfect mirror to the way that Michael is developing in the 1950s, as you see both men go from initially innocent people to tycoons of the organised crime world who are driven purely by ambition and power, something that is absolutely fascinating to see, and makes both characters all the more intriguing.
As with many sequels, this takes on a much darker tone to the first film. Whilst the first was a portrayal of the inner workings of the family and the way that power is transferred, as well as some insight into the crime and violence of the mafia world, this goes really in-depth into all of the fascinating negotiations and tense rivalries between various different personalities in the mob.
Of course, the first film was incredibly in-depth and gritty, but this second, where we see Michael Corleone establish an almost tyrannical rule akin to that of a Roman General in the family, is at times terrifying to watch, but absolutely fascinating all the same.
Another way in which this improves on the first is that it steps up the tension significantly. Again, there was a lot of great tension before, but here, when the stakes are even higher, and Michael is really that scary, you are constantly on edge for 200 minutes about who’s going to be ‘taken care of’ and what the ramifications will be, which is by far the most exciting part of the film.
Overall, this gets an 8.8, because it’s not only a sequel that builds on the world created in the first in brilliant fashion, but it does a stunning job of making an even more striking, exciting and dark portrayal of what was already an ingenious masterpiece.