A small-time operator specialising in stolen jewellery, Donnie Brasco knows a 'fugazi' - a fake - when he sees one. So he should, because he's fugazi himself, an FBI undercover agent working his way into the good graces of the Mob by way of Lefty Ruggiero, a wiseguy who takes him under his wing. Brasco's so successful, the operation becomes open-ended: for months, even years, he amasses evidence reaching throughout the Mafia - but his wife and kids never see him, and his friendship with Lefty goes beyond the parameters of the job. When push comes to shove, which way will he jump? A tense, sharp and compelling character study, Newell's film is a worthy addition to the Mob-movie canon. Comparison with GoodFellas is inevitable, though these wiseguys are no high-rollers, and the tone is much more measured; low-key, even. While Depp is admirably controlled in the necessarily passive, contained title role, Donnie is rather overshadowed by his more sympathetic mentor. Even when he's scrupulously underplaying, Pacino's Lefty dominates every scene he's in: relishing the comic foibles supplied by
's witty script, the gruff, coded vocabulary and a strong element of pathos.