By: Cam Sully

I decided to rank one of cinema’s beloved tough guy performers on the one and only best Action movie site. Let’s take a look at one of the most unusual, captivating and rather talked about performers for many a decade on this here list!

10. The Recruit

In this CIA mentor role, Pacino gets to display how he can still carry a film even when being the secondary lead. When the movie isn’t twisted everything in typical spy movie complexity, it’s often composing awesome speeches for Pacino to deliver. Even when the film gets too clever for its own good, it’s still a harmless thrill ride and likely to deliver reasonable if minuscule Action entertainment.

9. Any Given Sunday

Yes, sports movies count as Action and here Pacino does more dinner table greeting and inspirational speeches. But it says a lot to see an actor who portrays a coach you wish was your actual sports team coach.

8. Carlito’s Way

In yet another yarn of an ex-con going straight, Pacino now plays a Puerto Rican druglord who’s heavy-handed yet not stupid. Failure awaiting him at every turn, Pacino successfully breaks out at making this a different type of criminal role than the ones that proceeded him prior. While not always a pitch-perfect film, it nonetheless still fascinates and is rather involving until the explosive finale.

7. Stand Up Guys

A fun buddies coming out of retirement for one last score formula can either be entertaining or a mediocre misfire but this film manages to be rather laid-back and fun as a whole. Pacino never makes this only about him either, he’s just here to lead Chris Walken and Alan Arkin along for his fiasco and the film does a good job of balancing most everything out although it could’ve been slightly tidied up in mild places as well as had a little bit more funny skits for a fun nostalgia trip that this one ends up being but it altogether is an easy action-crime-comedy that will fit the bill and that does the most with the best.

6. Looking for Richard

Part war-movie epic, part mockumentary, Pacino also goes behind the camera for this one and an all-star cast accompanies him as well. Far from being like the Hamlet segment in the Arnie film Last Action Hero, this film nonetheless is a must-see for all fans of behind-the-scenes filmmaking and seeing how the combined efforts can make for a larger than life experience.

5. Serpico

Brutally stated in every scene, Sidney Lumet’s true crime investigation film grabs even the biggest nitpicker up from the get-go with its heavy focus on the cop walk and talk block. From the police beatings to the homophobia to the undercover work, this is a landmark film you can never look away from which still echoes true to this modern day.

4. Dog Day Afternoon

Changed up from a real-life story and fictionalized, this dramedy was essentially the Die Hard of the mid-‘70s and is a film where you can never look away from it sometimes thrilling and occasionally darkly comedic nature. Amazon Prime even lists this as Action and who can blame them? This is one deadly intense hostage thrill-ride! You’ve heard about it but if you haven’t seen it, terry no more and watch it the next time it shows on Turner Classic Movies.

3. Heat

Did you think I was gonna say Righteous Kill? Think again big time! Yes, people have overhyped this film to death bit it’s still endlessly watchable and stellar viewing. Pacino’s Det. Hanna, a former Marine and implied nicotine user, is a perfect example of how the best everyday cops have to pretty much throw away their personal lives to catch the biggest law evading criminals. Pacino nor the film itself ever glamorize the person and they definitely don’t act like he’s seemingly invincible, only determined beyond his wildest dreams to catch this man who he isn’t much different from at the end of the day.

2. The Godfather: An Epic for Television/The Godfather Saga

The best way by far is to see two stellar movies and edit them together in mostly chronological order! This version used to be shown on both Bravo and AMC networks but you can easily hunt down a copy on ebay for all we know. Back in 2016, it was even shown on the HBO channels in uncut form so there’s def a cool version that I wish was a Blu-Ray special feature one of these days!


Anyway, concerning the role, at first, it seems like the Michael Corleone character itself could’ve been played by anyone (it almost went to Martin Sheen even!) but Pacino even in his youngest days had the appropriate subtleties that were perfect for playing to the camera and accompanying this large multi-character study on how even the best still at the end of the day become possessed by their inheritance, even if it’s an absolute scum lifestyle.

1. Scarface

I’ll admit I grew up not a fan of this movie but it wasn’t long before I found myself quoting it and rewatching scenes, let alone seeing the whole film over. It’s not perfect and some of the fanboys of this are more batshit psycho than the character in the film itself but that’s overall beside the point. My point is that this is a movie that, despite some uneven accents and some over-the-top scenes going on a little too long, is an epic worth seeing. Yes, it’s three hours long. Yes, it’s got some implied sexual attraction between siblings. Yes, it’s cult movie status will always divide audiences as a whole. But guess what, Pacino does get to evolve here a ton despite it being a film that also typecast him once again, and the film itself does have loads of solid commentary mixed with Shakespearian-level double crosses that make it all the more appealing. And that ambitiousness alone is why it succeeds far more than it misses. Fire up the Blu-Ray, invite your pals over and even if half of you don’t care for it, you’ll still have fun laughing at the various one-liners, seeing the exciting plot unfold and might burst out dancing to the catchy soundtrack!

Need another badass actor’s work ranked here? Let us know via email or Twitter.

About the author: He’s experimented with film, runs a wacky podcast and will tackle any under appreciated flick/show that he can non-stop.

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