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Once Upon A Time In America (1984) Review

At almost four hours, Once Upon A Time In America is a star-studded movie filled with nostalgia and generational changes. It touches on many changes that happened in America during its history.

However, one might be too tired to finish this film because of its slow-paced storytelling that would either make you fall asleep or doze off.

Plot Overview

During the year 1933, three thugs looked for a man named Noodles while torturing people for information. Meanwhile, a group of people warned Noodles, who had been spending his time coping inside an Opium Den. He reads in a newspaper about the gruesome deaths of his friends. He evades capture and leaves the city alone.

Fifteen years before the current timeline, Noodles, Patsy, Cockeye, and Dominic struggle as street kids in Manhattan's Lower East Side. They do petty crimes for a mob boss named Bugsy. On one of their robberies, Max interrupts their plan but is stopped by a corrupt police officer. Later, they blackmailed the officer, and the five friends formed a group like Bugsy. Max and Noodles become best friends.

The group rises through the ranks after adopting the idea of Noodles hiding liquor bottles and gaining enough money. They stashed their earnings in a train station locker and gave Fat Moe the key. Noodles falls in love with Moe's sister, Deborah. She dreams of becoming an actress and dancer. Meanwhile, Bugsy ambushes the boys and kills Dominic. Noodles kills Bugsy and is sentenced to prison.

Noodles were released during the 1930s, and his friends, now famous bootleggers, rejoined during Prohibition. He joins them in several jobs and is successful. The conflicting interests between Max and Noodles hamper their friendship. Max has a political ambition, while Noodles dislikes the idea because he does not believe in hierarchy.


Once Upon A Time In America is a star-studded classic film featuring the talents of Robert DeNiro, James Woods, Joe Pesci, and many more. This is also the final film of Italian director Sergio Leone, who has been known for his Western classics.

This movie is so long that other cuts were made to flesh out the important bits of the story. I agree that parts of the film are so stretched out and unnecessary that I wanted some removed. I am struggling to wrap my head around its four-hour runtime, and it took me a long time to understand the point of its plot.

There were a lot of incredible shots in this film, like how the movie transitions from one era to the next.

Overall, even though this is an epic movie with a lot of moving parts in the story. Some may be exciting and action-packed, but others are too slow.

A mediocre 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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