- Miles Fielder
- 26 October 2006
This mobster epic charting the rise and fall of a gang of street punks from Rome’s suburbs, who took control of the capital’s criminal underworld in the 1970s, owes a debt not only to Italian crime movies of the period, but also to Italian-American filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, and finally to Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time in America, which Romanzo Criminale closely resembles. Given those heavyweight antecedents, it’s not surprising that the film gives one the feeling of having seen it all before.
Nevertheless, former volunteer cop, actor and director Michele Placido’s homage is a handsome and robust piece of filmmaking. And if it drags in the second half, when the gang led by Pierfrancesco Favino’s brutish Libano begins to fall apart, then Sandra Petragli and Stefano Rulli’s screenplay (based on Giancarlo De Cataldo’s bestselling novel) maintains interest by its seamless interweaving of fiction with modern Italian history.