By Eli Jordan
On Oct. 1, 2021, “Many Saints of Newark” marked the return to the Sopranos story which ended a little over 14 years ago. The movie’s plot follows a young Anthony Soprano and his idol, Uncle Dickie Moltisanti. Dickie is the father to series character Christopher Moltisanti. While the movie was enjoyable to watch as a fan of the series, it falls short of the way the Sopranos sucked you into the life of a New Jersey mobster. Michael Gandolfini plays a younger Tony Soprano, and the son of James Gandolfini, who played Tony Soprano in the original series. Michael has the right mannerisms for his character, but the way young Anthony was written just does not convince viewers that he turns into the monster seen in the Sopranos. Overall, Anthony Soprano in “Many Saints of Newark” is a sweet kid with a few stray delinquent acts. He steals an ice cream van, and he flunks his grades as a teenager. As a child, he starts a gambling ring in his class. The whole movie shows Tony doing his best to not become a member of his family’s mob. When his Uncle Dickie gives him a pair of stolen speakers, he is resistant to take them, and when his mother accused him of smoking weed, he said he wouldn’t because he played football. The movie tries to show you at the end that Tony is heading in the direction of the mob. But if this movie came out as a stand-alone, without the Sopranos series backing it up, it would not convince the viewer that Tony is joining the mob. Just one scene of him doing something in the criminal world would have been huge for the movie. His turn to the dark side is supposedly triggered by the death of a crucial character (which I won’t spoil), but to 95% of people it would give the opposite effect.
Now, after all the bashing the movie does a few things well. The fan service of seeing characters such as Paulie Gualtieri, Silvio Dante and Big Pussy Bonpensiero. The actors playing them nailed the mannerisms of the character to a “T.” The big one that stuck out to me was Paulie Gualtieri’s finger point. This may not sound like much, but Paulie is not Paulie without it.
Overall, the movie is a good watch, especially for a fan of the Sopranos, but it just feels like an opportunity was missed to really make the character of Tony Soprano something even deeper.