Rahul Bhatia’s review published on Letterboxd:
This is one of those 5 star ratings that's just easy to hand out, I already knew I would love it from the opening scene alone, Brando has a screen presence that demands your attention even in the quiet moments. Examining the mob world through the lens of cunning competency and strategy, it's so compelling to see how the Corleone family remains intact in the face of real-world history and the rise of the drug trade. Truly fitting the term "Shakespearean" with all the backstabbing and double-crossing and planning the next move like a chess game, there's this sort of elegance to all the chaos that ensues.
At first, I thought it would be mostly focused on Vito Corleone and not really on Michael until the second film, because I never really had a full grasp of the plot before watching it. However, it was really interesting to see this guy who starts off as a war hero and the cherished son who remains distant from the criminal activities of his family, to becoming the next in line due to the injustices which directly impact him. Even as his father becomes more relegated to the background as the film progresses, you gain a strong sense of what exactly led to him rising in power, which was all the relationships and connections he formed. Michael almost feels compelled to take action because of the attempt on his father's life and that transition point is very well displayed by Pacino, and his quiet nature to how he gets things done. Particularly in that scene in the diner where he ensures he's now a wanted man, his expressions say everything from initial hesitancy to grave solemness in what he must do.
A lot of the film consists of conversations and politicking in boardrooms and offices, and with that, every delegation has a weight to it when you know it means another hit or advancement in the gang war. The way that the editing has a certain calmness to it paints such a contrast to a contemporary in mob films like Scorsese, who elects for a more energetic sort of pace and soundtrack. However, for a story like this and its more theatrical depiction of the mob, Coppolla's style fits very well and it gives off a colder sense of their power and the corruption that was rampant at the time.
The ending leaves me wanting to jump into Part II immediately, and with the casino business already being introduced, I can imagine that it'll delve more into the mafia's spread into Cuba and Vegas with Michael at the helm. This is undoubtedly just a classic and it does everything well, lots of familiar faces here who fall comfortably into their roles and are at peak performing game.