This movie is a rare oddity for a dramatized undercover police crime drama as it does not glorify the profession one bit. In every instance, it conveys at the very least an underlying mood of dread and terror. Donnie Brasco is in a jungle where he does not belong, yet he must somehow push himself to fit in with the hollow sociopaths around him... Even at the cost of his own family. He is a true hero, not chivalrous, but doing what is necessary at great sacrifice to himself and those he holds dear... And yet there is no reward for him in the end, no glory to behold. He's just another cog in the machine, more meat for the meat grinder, but at least he made the world slightly brighter.
What this film does particularly well is its ability to demonstrate that in the ecosystem of organized crime, values such as honour, compassion, civility, and honesty are weaknesses-not strengths. Cunning, backstabbing, greed, and sheer brutal force wins the day.
Brasco forgivably comes close to humanizing the inhumane, desperately looking for some manner of good in a somewhat fatherly-figure... Only to be starkly reminded that for the monsters inhabiting this dark underbelly of society, they will gut him like a fish should he reveal himself as a human being walking among them.
This film has excellent performances by its entire cast and good direction... My main criticism is that the ending feels a bit abrupt, and left me with the feeling there should have been more explanation for the aftermath of the events transpired. It almost feels tired, but maybe that was the whole point all along.