|Index||3 reviews in total|
This is my review of the DVD/Blu, written for Flick Feast: Angels of
Evil is the biographical true story of Italy's most notorious gangster
and Milanese bank robber, Renato Vallanzasca.
The movie starts in 1981 in a maximum security prison, where Renato Vallanzasca (Kim Rossi Stuart) rules the roost. He strolls around his dirty prison cell in his pants and gets served a bowl of filthy looking rice with a cockroach crawling around in it. From scene one, we can tell this isn't going to be a pretty looking film. Whilst beating up prison guards, we hear his voice-over saying he 'never could stand bullies' and because of this, his first job was freeing circus animals from their cages.
He got into crime from an early age, stealing heaters and other electrical equipment to sell on. Because of his downright thuggery, he gets sent to a juvenile detention centre, where he eventually becomes the "boss of the Comasina", which is a district in Milan.
Bank robber Vallanzasca has a gang of not so merry men, including crackpot best friend Enzo, played by Filippo Timi. They seem to enjoy nothing more than to terrorise the poor folk of Milan, committing murders, robberies and kidnappings, while profits are spent on women and drugs.
They finally have it out with their rival Francis Turatello and Vallanzasca's team hold wealthy residents to ransom. As you can imagine, things get a little messy.
Kim Rossi Stuart has a lot of charm, mixed with a crazy brutality and a great face to slap on the front of a newspaper. There's a fantastic scene where Vallanzasca dresses as a business man and just strolls straight through into the bank's back room to help himself and it's only with this charm that he manages to go through with it.
There is a bit of a trend in Euro-crime dramas recently and if you want to see a better and grittier prison film, check out A Prophet.
Michele Placido is not a stranger to the crime/drama genre and we're left feeling that he could have made more from this. Angels of Evil could possibly have benefited from being a tad shorter and with six writers on the project, could it have been a case of too many pens spoil the screenplay? It's a decent film and worth a watch with its grimy story, charting the rise and fall of a well known gangster, but it's been done better before.
The disc is great, with special features including a making of featurette, an interview with Stuart and a few deleted and extended scenes thrown in there for good measure.
We first meet a prisoner named Vallanzasca in the 80s. He tells us
about his childhood were early on he, his little brothers, sister, and
friends started stealing things and selling them. One day he finds one
of his brothers dead. In adulthood he and his team start robbing
armored cars. But he's a peaceful criminal who avoids violence. They
have guns just to intimidate people. Eventually he ends up in jail.
When he's out he he reunites with his gang. They club, do drugs, drink, women, etc. He eventually meets a girl with whom he has a son. At one club they run into the big crime boss in Milan, named Turatello. He happens to be with Vallanzasca's sister, whom he hasn't seen in years. So they reunite as well. They quickly start the business of robbing banks and start provoking Turatello by robbing his casino. But now Vallanzasca buddies start getting violent, they kill people against his wishes. They start kidnapping rich folk and other higher stake crimes.
They plan their most complex heist yet--robbing the tax office in downtown Milan. While Vallanzasca is inside the office impersonating some high officer his friends are spotted outside by cops and bullets start flying. There are victims on both sides and now the gang has to lay low. At a checkpoint Vallanzasca is shot in the butt and eventually caught. This leads to a longer stint in jail, the same jail where Turatello is now. And what starts with some tense moments between the two ends up in a great friendship with Turatello taking Vallanzasca under his wing. There are trials and lots of people turn against Vallanzasca. He's not reluctant to use violence anymore and through Turatello takes revenge on all those who flipped. He also gets married in jail as scores of women fall for him. He becomes a public figure, a media darling constantly taunting the police. But the cycle of violence catches up with him as Turatello isn't immune.
During a transfer Vallanzasca who's always promised he'll escape, actually manages to do so. His family offer support, he ends up giving a radio interview, but at this point he's subject of the largest manhunt in Italy.
Angel of Evil is unmistakably an Italian movie--it's loud as no one speaks but only screams. It's much more interested in these fast screaming litanies than in showing us some action. And it's more concerned with the several jail stints than with the actual crimes. An Italian version of Heat this is not unfortunately. Initially things are pretty confusing, scenes are short, characters aren't established, except for the lead. Once things calm down a bit, about an hour into the movie, you also start liking the movie a bit more.
The second major weaknesses of this film is that it tries so desperately hard to establish the lead as a charismatic brilliant criminal, angelic leader of thugs, ladies man, seducer of the entire nation, master manipulator of individuals and masses. Instead of looking like an Italian member of a gang they want him to be some American super individualistic cowboy. And thus they missed an opportunity to make a great action thriller crime drama centered on a group of interesting criminals. We learn nothing about his crew, we can't even tell them apart let alone learn their names. Some of this may have to do with the fact that the lead actor was also involved in the script. This movie could have been strong as a buddy/team crime saga.
Angel of Evil is two hours long but it does feel much longer. Based on real life events, this could have been an outstanding movie, but they really missed their chance here.
Gritty, but not that engaging.
Had the makings of a good Scarface-like crime-drama, but ultimately was disappointing. Story just wasn't that enthralling, or engaging. Is pretty much a join-the-dots blow-by-blow account of a crime lord's life. Little depth to the characters.
Has some good action scenes and is quite gritty, but the movie lacks substance.
Decent performances, however. Kim Rossi Stuart is great in the lead role. Supporting cast are solid too. Moritz Bleibtrau and Paz Vega will be familiar names to many viewers.
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