About 14 years after The Sopranos came to a close, series creator David Chase and writer Lawrence Konner return to the Sopranos universe. They have a new story to tell in The Many Saints of Newark.
Young Anthony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini) is growing up in one of the most tumultuous eras in Newark history. He’s becoming a man just as rival gangsters start to rise up and challenge the powerful DiMeo crime family. Caught up in the changing times is the uncle he idolizes, Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola). Dickie’s influence will turn him into the all-powerful mob boss we know as Tony Soprano.
Taking the front seat in the film is Dickie Moltisanti, being the father of Christopher (Micheal Imperioli). The film explores his various struggles of trying to be a good role model for his nephew. At the same time, he’s running the crime family business. Dickie is a character you can sympathize with while also being horrified of his violent nature.
Sopranos director Alan Taylor does a great job in the director’s chair specifically with the various shootouts in the movie. His direction films these scenes with tension. The look of the film also really stands out here. There are many familiar locations and Easter eggs sprinkled throughout for the fans of the series.
Everyone in the entire cast is excellent, working magically together on-screen, recapturing younger versions of characters from the show perfectly. Michael Gandolfini knocks it out of the park as Tony Soprano, having his father’s big shoes to fill. He gives a very authentic and charismatic performance as the character. Another major standout in the film is Vera Farmiga as Livia Soprano, being the mother of Tony and Janice Soprano. She has the same snobbish personality and feelings of hopelessness about her children as seen in the show. One other strong performance is Leslie Odom Jr. as Harold McBrayer, an African American gangster. After working for Dickie Moltisanti, he has become frustrated, wanting to start a crew of his own.
The first half of the film takes place during the 1967 Newark race riots. Racial tensions were very high during this period in Newark’s history. It focuses on Dicke and Harold’s relationship as these riots would be the breaking point in their relationship. It causes Harold to want to leave Dickie’s crew and start his very own. Then we jump into 1972 as a teenage Tony Soprano takes center stage. He struggles in high school, instead wanting to have a strong relationship with his uncle. This portion also shows the start of Tony’s more criminal behavior, following the actions of those around him. He starts very slowly, like him stealing an ice cream truck.
Perhaps the film’s only detriment is in the run time of it being only two hours. It feels as if there are a lot of scenes missing from the film because of its fast pace. It quickly jumps from one scene to the next. This story might have needed a mini-series format rather than cramming everything into two hours.
The Many Saints of Newark has the richly detailed story. It has characters that you have come to expect from the series. It will surely please fans of the Sopranos. And it will get people who have never seen the series to want to check it out. As the iconic theme from the show plays during the credits, it will leave you wanting more.
- Rated: R
- Genre: Crime, Drama
- Release Date: 10/1/2021
- Directed by: Alan Taylor
- Starring: Alessandro Nivola, Corey Stoll, Jon Bernthal, Leslie Odom Jr., Michael Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Vera Farmiga
- Produced by: Lawrence Konner, Nicole Lambert
- Written by: David Chase, Lawrence Konner
- Studio: New Line Cinema, Warner Bros