Film Review – The Many Saints of Newark (2021)

Title – The Many Saints of Newark (2021) 

Director – Alan Taylor (Terminator Genisys

Cast – Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, Corey Stoll, Ray Liotta, Michael Gandolfini

Plot – Set decades before the hit TV show The Sopranos, this prequel film delves into the formative years of Tony Soprano (Gandolfini) as his dealings with his crime centric family and his beloved uncle Dickie Moltisanti (Nivola) shape the man he will become. 

“Pain comes from always wanting things”

Review by Eddie on 25/11/2021

The first taste of Soprano life since the hit HBO series finished its run with its hugely divisive finale in 2007, the streaming giant and Warner Brother’s head back to where the life of famed mobster Tony Soprano started as we delve into the formative years of the young Italian/American as his explosive family navigate a world of crime, double crossings and romantic affairs in The Many Saints of Newark. 

Billed everywhere as the origin story of Tony, Alan Taylor’s two hour feature is in fact the opposite of that as it instead chooses to shine a light mostly on Alessandro Nivola’s Dickie Moltisanti (Christopher’s father) as he comes head to head with his father (played by an increasingly disheveled looking Ray Liotta), tries to manage his relationship with Michela De Rossi’s Giuseppina Moltisanti and act as a father figure to a young Tony who adores his favorite uncle, even more so than his often incarcerated father Johnny, who is portrayed by an underused Jon Bernthal. 

Played well by Nivola, Dickie isn’t an intriguing enough character in his own right to carry the film and what his getting up too story wise isn’t exactly what you’d expect for a feature length affair with one quickly getting the feeling from Newark that whatever the team behind this outing where hoping too achieve would’ve been better suited to a mini-series or the likes to flesh out what is a film with a lot of ideas and elements but nothing binding it together, as its cold and uninteresting story unfolds to an end game that makes The Sopranos finale feel like a worthwhile exercise. 

There is the possibility that even a more fleshed out version of this origin tale wouldn’t have made much of a mark, the good version of this tale likely exists in a world where we actually got to grow up alongside Tony in his eccentric and troubled family life and the moments we get to spend with Michael Gandolfini spending time with his mother Livia (played impressively by a prosthetic wearing Vera Farmiga) are some of the best in this plain and drab feature that is unlikely too do much for either long term fans or Soprano newbies who will be utterly bemused by what they may’ve hoped would be a new Goodfella’s look at life in the mob. 

What first appeared to be a great chance to dive back into the lives of the Sopranos and all their acquittances instead ends up being an instantly forgettable and mostly pointless exercise to try and draw breath out of a property that has long laid dormant, there’s no doubt stories still to tell from this land of great hopes, money, love and betrayal but Newark isn’t the outing to showcase the best of what was a genre defining original. 

Final Say – 

Without any real thread holding it all together and unable to find a reason to exist as it stands, The Many Saints of Newark is a film that just happens without much fanfare or imagination, making it a failed attempt to show a different side of The Sopranos to longtime fans or keen newcomers. 

2 ice cream trucks out of 5   

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