Italian director Ricky Tognazzi’s taut, exciting 1993 documentary-style thriller is set in Sicily, where the men who protect special investigators find themselves sharing their charges’ constant fear of death.
It traces the developing trust between four young police bodyguards dedicated to protecting an investigating prosecuting magistrate (Carlo Cecchi) on Sicily’s mean streets. He has been sent to replace a state attorney working on a sensitive political case who’s killed with his bodyguard by Mafia hit men.
Judge Michele de Francesco (Carlo Cecchi) faces conflict when he starts to look into strange dealings concerning some water wells. But despite initial turmoil, the four men who make up his escort resolve to help the judge investigate the corruption, even though the finger is pointed at the Mafia.
Tognazzi’s confident, vibrant direction results in a dynamic film with nail-biting tension, as the endangered men balance their own safety against their desire to effect social and political change.
He draws strong performances from his cast, especially Claudio Amendola and Enrico Lo Verso, who form two of the strongest members in the team, Angelo Mandolesi and Andrea Corsale. Relationships are well drawn, bringing us deeper into the conflict as we share the team’s sense of loyalty and outrage.
The characters and lives of the protagonists are carefully defined: the stubborn and determined magistrate, the chief guard (Enrico Lo Verso) coping with his wife’s disapproval of the danger he’s in, the loner (Tony Sperandeo), the frightened one (Ricky Memphis) desperate for a transfer, and the one (Claudio Amendola) with a grudge against the hit-men who killed his friend.
Despite the fast pace, the film is strong on gritty realism and naturalistic details, expertly delineating the group’s fears and tensions, and the developing loyalties, and capturing the sweaty-palm scares involved in the job and honest rule of law lives in Sicily.
The story is packed with action and made with great energy by Tognazzi, though an abrupt, anti-climactic ending brings a slight sense of a missing third act. Graziano Diana and Simona Izzo’s story and screenplay are based on true events.
The incredibly prolific composer Ennio Morricone provides another one of his striking scores.
© Derek Winnert 2015 Classic Movie Review 3208
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