Director: Alan Taylor
Writers: David Chase and Lawrence Konner
Starring: Alessandro Nivola, Michael Gandolfini, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Vera Farmiga, and Ray Liotta
The Many Saints of Newark, the prequel to The Sopranos, tells the story of Tony Soprano’s childhood, against the backdrop of the 1967 Newark riots. It’s a full-on mobster film, with great characters, excellent performances, a gripping story and a lot of violence.
Many Saints is a brutal and violent film. The deaths are quick and relentless. There’s no sugar coating it, when people get shot, they die quickly. The effects and blood look real and there are a few deaths that are heart stopping moments when watching. There’s a shoot-out that will have you on the edge of your seat, not knowing what’s going to happen. It’s intense.
The performances are absolutely fantastic. Alessandro Nivola (The Art of Self-Defence) is perfectly cast Dickie Moltisanti. He’s trying to be a good role model to the children, especially Tony, while at the same time is one of the most ruthless and brutal characters in the film. Nivola walks that line perfectly without missing a step. He’s sinister and charming. Michael Gandolfini (Cherry) breathes new life into the character his father played in the TV series. He’s excellent in the role and if there was any hesitation of anxiety about living up to the role, it doesn’t show on screen. Tony Soprano is a smart kid and is at a crossroads in his life between leading a good life or falling into the criminal family. Vera Farmiga (Bate’s Motel) is brilliant, as usual, playing Livia Soprano. She works well with Jon Bernthal (Punisher) as her husband, Johnny Boy, and whenever they are both on screen together, you know it’s going to be a good scene.
Even though this film is very violent film, with some brutal deaths, it still has a lot of great moments of comedy. There are more laugh out loud moments in this film than some comedies. The trailers show some funny moments, but it doesn’t give away the best ones. Vera Farmiga gets a lot of laughs with her looks and sly digs at people. There’s also every cliched line of dialogue you would imagine from a mob film, they come across as both genuine and funny.
The soundtrack is just perfect. Each song sets the era and scene perfectly. Every song is great and really helps set the mood. The costumes, sets and cars look great as well. It would be easy to believe that this was made in the 1970s, everything looks authentic and it’s clear that a lot of effort went into this.
The Many Saints of Newark is a welcome addition to The Soprano’s franchise and will help newcomers find their way to the show. While at points it is constrained by the face that this is a prequel, the film is still a massive success and very entertaining. With great performances, brutal violence and a gripping story, Many Saints is an outstanding mob film that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the greats.