Angels of Evil (Gli Angeli del Mal)
Flawed addition to the gangster movie genre
The story of real-life Milan mobster Renato Vallanzasca, Angels of Evil has all the ingredients for a bloody gangster classic. For starters, there’s actor/director Michele Placido (who made the 2005 crime saga Romanzo Criminale) at the helm, and the magnetic Kim Rossi Stuart in the lead.
With an international support cast including Paz Vega and Moritz Bleibtreu, an electric score and lashings of violence, it should be a winner. But this is a messy film at best, lurching from bank robbery to prison stint to street-side murder with a chaos that echoes its hero’s own lifestyle on the lam.
What does linger long in the memory is the performance of Stuart, who perfectly essays the cocksure swagger of a man currently serving four consecutive life sentences. Set initially in the 1970s, the best scenes come early. ‘I was born to be a thief,’ Vallanzasca tells us, and Placido’s depiction of these formal years is gripping.
But as turf wars with rival gangster Turatello (Francesco Scianna) escalate, it becomes increasingly hard to care about Vallanzasca or his cronies. As a Robin Hood-style saga, it just about covers it. But what the film really lacks is any great emotional depth of more recent dissections of Italian criminal heritage such as Gomorrah.
GFT, Glasgow; Cameo, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 27 May.