Reviewed by: Peter Cook
murder in the Bible
deception / lying
gangsters / organized crime / mafia
selling illegal drugs / cocaine
witness protection program
father son relationship
mother son relationship
mother daughter relationship
brother brother relationship
“Three decades of life in the mafia.”
The movie “GoodFellas” begins with a Mafia cliché. Three men are driving down a deserted road. They hear a thump. They pull over and check the trunk. Sure enough, the person in there is not quite dead. Two of the characters graphically remedy the situation.
Fortunately for the viewer, that is the only cliché contained in Martin Scorsese’s “GoodFellas”, one of the best films of its genre. The movie is based on the book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, the true story of Henry Hill, whose career in the mafia lasted three decades.
Hill is played perfectly by Ray Liotta, who also narrates the film. The movie follows Hill and his friends Jimmy “the Gent” Conway [Robert De Niro, and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci)]. Other supporting actors include Lorraine Bracco as Henry’s wife, Karen and Paul Sorvino as Paul Cicero, head of the crime family.
The strength of this movie is in its realistic portrayal of criminal life. At the beginning, Liotta enjoys his life and brags of the benefits, but at the end is a man who realizes he is in over his head and sees only one way out.
The film does portray loyalty as commendable, and shows the negative side of drug use. It can bring up questions about how far people will go to be part of something larger than themselves.
Scorsese’s eye for a shot is flawless in this film, and the acting is superb. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards®, including Best Picture. As with many Mafia movies, though, this contains a considerable amount of violence and pervasive strong language. There are at least five murders shown in the film, some quite graphically, and scenes of people being hit or otherwise abused. Other murder and violent behavior is insinuated.
The film also contains some sensuality (but no nudity) and adulterous behavior. Drug use is also evident, as is deception. Characters are almost constantly being shown performing or condoning criminal acts.
Children should not watch this film. Christians should exercise discernment, if thinking of seeing this film. “GoodFellas” is extremely well made and Scorsese’s best film, but contains a great deal of material that may be offensive to many.