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Michael 'Mike' Turner is handsome, bright, a resourceful law student and perfect gentleman. Mike were perfect hadn't he been born in late 20th century Brooklyn, a New York borough dominated by the mob, in his case Carmine Mancuso, who luckily chooses to protect bright Mike, even against mob ruffian Gino, and his two inseparable buddies. Cocky Carmine Mancuso actually chooses to join the bloody business, sparing only his youth friends. Third mate Bobby Canzoneri, whose equally dumb parents hosted the gang as kids, naively aims no higher then tenure in the US Post. Yet Bobby ends up dead when a mob war erupts. Written by
This film was written by Terence Winter, one of the driving forces behind the Sopranos TV series and, given the reputation of that show (which I have to admit to never having seen), I was quite surprised by the routine nature of this film. Freddie Prinze Jr. finds himself out of his depth as Michael, a Brooklyn kid half-scamming his way through law school while trying to avoid becoming sucked into the mob life so adored by Carmine (Scott Caan), one of his closest friends.
Much of the problem lies with the fact that everything that happens here we have seen before in better, more original gangster flicks. The story is OK, but the script rarely rises above the pedestrian and, despite some rather clumsy attempts to insert a number of 80s pop culture references there is no real feeling for time or place. Alec Baldwin, who appears as the local mob ruler is by far the best thing about this film. In fact, Baldwin's pretty good in everything he does these days, having successfully negotiated the thorny transition from leading man to character actor without falling foul of the pitfalls encountered by some of his contemporaries. The best scenes in the film are the ones in which he appears and aren't just the most violent incidents. There is more insight into the workings of the mob in the scene in which Baldwin sits down with another gangster to iron out a few issues between Michael and the local mob psycho than there is in the beatings and shootings, etc.
Scott Caan is memorable, but it's difficult to be sure whether it is because he gives a good performance in his own right or because in a number of scenes he is so reminiscent of his father playing Sonny Corleone.
While there's nothing new here, the picture is entertaining enough and is a relatively painless experience.
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