The movie is a coming-of-age drama about a boy growing up in Astoria, N.Y., during the 1980s. As his friends end up dead, on drugs or in prison, he comes to believe he has been saved from their fate by various so-called saints.
Robert Downey Jr.,
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
OK, this isn't the best Brooklyn-coming-of-age-in-the-midst-of-wiseguys movie ever made, but all in all I think it was pretty good.
First off, I think all the acting was pretty good. A great turn from Jerry Ferrara, "entourage"s Turtle. One may think from watching that show that this kid was plucked off the streets of Bensonhurst (where's he's from... and I am too) to be on the show, and is a one-trick-pony, but, he gave a great, nuanced, sweet performance of a character that was nothing like his "entourage" alter ego. Kudos to him. I look forward to seeing him in more films, growing as an actor. He was likable, believable, and genuine.
Scott Cahn was excellent. He played his character, one that isn't new in mob-related films, with intensity, humor, and honesty. While his character Carmine may be bordering on a life of crime, he kept the character's heart in tact. I swear moments in this film reminded me of his dad... in a good way.
Freddie Prinze Jr, who'ds I've never seen in a "real movie", was pretty good in this too. Out of the three though, he seemed the most out of place, but, I felt he tried hard and played the role with conviction. His and Mena Suvari's (another actor who I felt didn't fit this film) romance plot line was one the movie could have done without. Upper crust girl falls for and inspires scrubby neighborhood guy to shoot for the stars. It's been done before, and it didn't need to be done again. ANyway, I think if this kid had more roles like this to beef him up, he'd become a pretty good actor. He's not BAD now... but he'd get better for sure doing character driven films like this.
Alec Baldwin, who I think is always entertaining, did a good job in this as the local neighborhood mob boss. He didn't ham it up or go over the top as he sometimes does. He did a nice understated job that suited the character. He was likable, but also had that sheen of danger about him. Good work for this kind of character.
The Brooklyn setting (basically the neighborhoods visited in this are Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Bay Ridge, and Dyker Heights) were genuine (Pastels was a nice touch... and if you're from this neighborhood, you'd agree). The backdrop plot line of the "rise of John Gotti" was a cool one to see everything eveolve around. It hasn't really been touched upon except for on those not-very-great TV movies about Gotti and Sammy "The Rat" Gravano. I thought it was a nice touch. Ss were the scenes with Bobby's family. Perfect! It had comedy, drama, believable characters, and while it may not be the greatest movie ... mob related or not... it had heart. I dug it. It's worth a view.
PS. Someone mentioned in their review that if you're gonna use The Stones in your mob movie soundtrack, you shouldn't use songs already used in other mob movies. Well, to correct them, the only Stones song in this flick is "Sympathy for the Devil"... which to my knowledge was never used in another mob movie. And anyway, Scorcsese used "Gimme Shelter" in not one but TWO of his films. I guess he should be chastised even more for ripping himself off, huh?
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