How to Make Violence Boring

Review of “The Many Saints of Newark”


Photo by: Ireland Weaver

“Many Saints of Newark” provides a dull look into the lives of a New Jersey mob family. Violence and sex can’t seem to make this film interesting. While the visual side of the film is impeccable, the story relies too heavily on the reputation of “The Sopranos.”

Ireland Weaver, Reporter

“The Many Saints of Newark” can be summed up in three words: sex, blood and politics. I sat down to watch a mob movie, but the necessary inclusion of the 1960s political climate was slightly unexpected. The film was great in many ways, but some parts left a bad taste in my mouth.

The film is set in 1960s New Jersey and is a prequel to the classic show, “The Sopranos.” I thought the film would be more about young Tony Soprano, but it felt like his uncle, Dickie Moltisanti was the main character. The trailer and articles about the film really pushed that it was about young Tony, which was a discrepancy. 

I loved the visuals and the technical side of the film. The costumes and acting were incredible for the most part. The story is where I got lost, though. It was kind of boring and relied heavily on sex and bloodshed to maintain the audience’s attention. Some plotlines felt forced and could have been written better to flow more with the main story. After watching, I can’t tell you what the purpose of this film was beyond scratching the mafia reboot itch. It felt like a bunch of character arcs without a key storyline to tie them all together.

There is a big portion of the film dedicated to the race riots in New Jersey, but the amount of time devoted doesn’t make sense to how little it’s tied to the main plot. There were all the key elements needed for a great film, but it ended up just being boring. This could have been really captivating if the film was structured differently. It’s hard to make a side character a villain midway through the film. The whole film felt like a series of side characters trying to get in the spotlight rather than a true protagonist and antagonist. 

I found it hard to support the main character. Sometimes he would do incredible things and you would love him, but the bad he did outweigh the good. Then there were parts where seemingly big things would happen and no one cared. One character went to jail and they just flashed forward a few years to when they got out. I didn’t care about a single character. 

Michael Gandolfini plays young Tony Soprano, which is iconic, since his father, James Gandolfini, played the character originally. His acting was good, but his accent sometimes took you out of the experience. 

The actors did an amazing job at making us believe that they were real mafia men. By the end of the film, I walked out feeling like an Italian man that nobody would dare disrespect. 

What makes a movie great for me is when I start to feel like I’m a part of it. It’s like being a part of an inside joke. For two hours, their world is your world and you can feel safe knowing that the ending should satisfy you. I think that’s why people like movies so much. In the real world, every second is a mystery and at any point, your life could change. The future is so unsure. In a film, you know that the writer would never destroy a story with a disappointing ending. At least for most movies. 

With this film, there was no possibility of a bad ending because the writer never got you to care enough about it. They relied too heavily on the notoriety of the Sopranos and didn’t do enough leg work to make this an interesting stand-alone film. 

I think that if you love “The Sopranos,” you should definitely watch this film. If you haven’t seen the show, you might be better off skipping it. I rate this movie a six out of ten. “Many Saints of Newark” is streaming on HBO MAX until Oct. 31.