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Many Saints of Newark (2021) Review

By   Sep 30, 2021 11:59 PM EST

Individually, the cast is very good but as an ensemble they are outstanding.

HBO has always been known for its entertaining, high-quality original series.  From True Blood to Game of Thrones and so many in between, it is difficult to count how many Emmys their properties have won.  From 1999 to 2007 one of these shows was The Sopranos, which told the story of an Italian mob boss living in New Jersey who was trying to juggle his family life with his responsibilities as a Mafia Boss.  Over its eight-year run, The Sopranos won numerous awards including twenty-one Emmys, and made much of the cast household names.  This month fans of the series will be delighted, as a prequel movie called The Many Saints of Newark will hit theaters nationwide.

In the 1960s Anthony "Tony" Soprano (Michael Galdolfini; The Deuce) was no more than an impressionable young man trying to navigate through a world where his father was in jail, and he idolized his Uncle Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola; American Hustle). Years earlier, Tony witnessed all sorts of things that weren't normal and/or legal.  However, that is the life one ended up with when one's relatives were all part of the Mafia in Newark, New Jersey.  For Tony, everything he heard and saw leads him to eventually grow up to become the "boss" of the Soprano Family.

When producers took on the task of creating an "origin" (for lack of a better description) story for a beloved character on The Sopranos, which has been described as "one of the best television series of all time", they had their work cut out for them.  Besides scouting locations, they had to bring together a group of actors that could exemplify the characteristics of Italian- American, Mafia families that had been glorified on the show. 

Casting Ray Liotta (GoodFellas) as the elder statesman of the clan seems like a no-brainer and he doesn't disappoint playing both "Hollywood Dick" Moltisanti and his twin brother, Sal.  Joining him are Nivola, Galdofini, Corey Stoll (Ant-Man) as Junior Soprano, Jon Bernthal (The Accountant) as Tony's father, Johnny, Leslie Odom, Jr. (Hamilton) and Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel) as Tony's mother, Livia.

Individually, the cast is very good but as an ensemble they are outstanding.  They work great together like a well-oiled machine and Gandolfini's son Michael does his father proud.  While he is still a little green around the edges, he certainly should have benefitted from being around this talented cast.

The sets and costumes were authentic to the time and the location.  Having grown up in suburban New Jersey, the various homes Tony and his family lived in throughout the film made me nostalgic for my youth and the only home I knew for the first fifteen years of my life.  The depiction of the Newark riots of 1967 seemed authentic, believable and was an appropriate backdrop for the drama unfolding in the Soprano family.,

The dialogue is pedestrian, and cliché and the characters don't stray far from the stereotypical roles they are assigned.  However, the biggest issue with the movie is, if like me, you have never seen The Sopranos television series, you will be utterly confused.  Easter Eggs and subtle nods to the show will go right over your head and as a mob movie, without knowing the show, it is not great.  It can't stand up on its own so after a while, confusion segues into boredom. 

Colleagues who left the theater with me stated the movie filled in a lot of plot holes from the show so if you have seen every episode of the award-winning HBO series, then this movie is for you.  If you haven't then you likely won't enjoy the movie nearly as much.

Grade: C+


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Directed By:

MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 120 minutes
Distributed By: New Line Cinema

For more information about Many Saints of Newark visit the FlickDirect Movie Database.

Many Saints of Newark images are © New Line Cinema. All Rights Reserved.

About Allison Rose



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