The Many Saints of Newark (2021)

many saints of newark poster 2021 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Great casting, fleshes out aspects of The Sopranos

For watchers of The Sopranos only, story doesn't gain traction until later

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Many Saints of Newark

Studio:  Chase Films/HBO Films/HBO

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  September 22, 2021 (Tribeca Fall Preview)/October 1, 2021 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

many saints of newark hollywood dick moltisanti ray liotta giuseppina michela de rossi

Hot Step-Mom + Mob + Dad You Don’t Like = Trouble

Tony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini) is a teen growing up in a family where secrets are power, and power and crime go hand in hand.  As his idolized uncle Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola) navigates control of the family following his father “Hollywood Dick” Moltisanti (Ray Liotta) and his leadership, crime can pay…but it also has consequences.  Every action has a reaction and in the mob, reactions can be deadly.  Every story has a beginning, and Tony Soprano’s story starts here.

Directed by Alan Taylor, The Many Saints of Newark is a crime drama.  The movie is a prequel to the award winning HBO drama The Sopranos (January 10, 1999-June 10, 2007) and premiered at the Tribeca Fall Preview with a small theatrical release and an HBO Max run.  The film received mixed reviews.

I loved The Sopranos.  I jumped on about midway through the first season but had to wait a painful amount of time to see the next season (due to not having cable and having to wait for it to be released on DVD).  As a result, it has been ages since I saw The Sopranos in full.  The Many Saints of Newark was a nice trip back to a fantastic series…but feels more like an addendum than a full-fledged film.

many saints of newark dickie kills giuseppina beach alessandro nivola

Take a trip to the beach with your mistress…it will be fun they said…

The story is kind of scattershot to start with.  It is told from the perspective of the deceased Christopher Moltisanti (voiced by his actor Michael Imperioli) which does provide an interesting spin on the film even.  Unlike a lot of the advertising might imply, it is really about Christopher’s father Dickie Moltisanti with Tony Soprano as almost a secondary supporting character.  In telling Dickie’s story, you learn Tony’s story.  Unfortunately, the first part of the story feels a bit directionless (but necessary) before solidifying in the 1970s.  It then serves as a great set-up to how Tony rose to power and the whys and hows of those who work for him.

The prequel casting is perfect.  It brings aboard Alessandro Nivola as the new character lead with tough guy classic Ray Liotta playing a dual role as “Hollywood Dick” Moltisanti and Salvatore “Sally” Moltisanti.  Leslie Odom Jr. also introduces a new character in Harold McBrayer who feels a bit underdeveloped and also gives off a “spin-off” vibe.  Michael Gandolfini is a great stand-in for his father as the young Tony Soprano (but honestly William Ludwig is a good young Tony…and resembles Anthony Jr. a lot).  Jon Bernthal plays Tony’s father and some of the other actors like Joey Diaz as Big Pussy’s father (with Pussy played by Samson Moeakiola) are obvious as to The Sopranos characters they are playing.  Possibly the best casting is Vera Farmiga as Livia Soprano who feels like a real combination of actor Nancy Marchand and Edie Falco…further blurring the psychology of The Sopranos and Tony’s relationship with his mother and his wife.

many saints of newark livia tony soprano vera farmiga michael gandolfini

You’re the best, Mom…I just hope that someday you don’t try to have me murdered

The movie looks solid and smartly buries itself in real history.  Personally I never heard much of the Newark Riots with the Watts Riots (and later the LA Riots) taking center stage.  The real live event and the smart visuals anchors The Many Saints of Newark in the time period they are trying to achieve.

The Many Saints of Newark isn’t bad…if you watched The Sopranos, but if you didn’t watch The Sopranos, it is probably pointless.  The story does a good job fleshing out some things (including Junior’s vindictive temper) and how sins of the father land on their children…either directly like with Tony or indirectly like with Christopher.  I could see another film (either a spin-off or another prequel) fitting in well…but I still would love to revisit the original cast in the future to see how they all turned out (especially with the loss of Gandofini).

Related Links:

The Sopranos—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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