The Many Saints of Newark

I have never seen even one episode of The Sopranos. When it was announced that they were making a full length movie prequel to the series, it was not something that excited me. Still, since it was being released on HBO Max as well as in theaters, I figured I would give it a chance. My guess is that there will be several Easter eggs that I will not recognize or characters that I have no idea who they are.

I was aware of Tony Soprano, as played by the late Joseph Gandolfini. I am aware of the series finale and generally what happened. In The Many Saints of Newark, young Anthony Soprano is being played by Joseph’s son Michael Gandolfini, which is an interesting casting and placed a lot of pressure on the young man. This is the reason why Anthony was not our main character in the movie. From what I saw of Michael, he was solid as a young Anthony Soprano.

However, the main character is Uncle Dickie (Alessandro Nivola) who Anthony looked up to a lot. The Soprano clan was filled with some oddball characters. Anthony’s mother Livia (Vera Farmiga) had several problems with her marriage to Johnny Soprano (Jon Bernthal). Ray Liotta was Uncle Dickie’s father ‘Hollywood Dick’ Moltisanti. The cast was very strong.

Set in the civil rights unrest of the late 1960s, we follow several of the family members and their constant outbursts and anger. The racial riots as a background for the movie was an interesting choice, but none of that felt important to the overall story. Leslie Odom Jr is excellent again, but I really did not know much about his character.

There were some brutal scenes of violence peppered through the film that show how these characters are on the edge of exploding at any moment.

Again, since I did not watch The Sopranos, I do not know if I missed some undercurrent of the story. I still found it an enjoyable watch falling into the gangster genre.

3.4 stars

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