Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Mafia is a Bitter Pill to Swallow: A Movie Review

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*full disclosure: a screener of this film was provided by Ketchup Entertainment.

Director/writer: Ryan Combs.

Cast: Ving Rhames, Pam Grier, Sean Derry and Robert Patrick.

Tagline: "He crossed the wrong cop."

Mafia is a film from writer and director Ryan Combs. Combs has delivered films such as The Wrath of Cain, Double Tap and other titles you have not heard of. However, cinema fans have likely heard of many members of the cast in this film, which are listed above. These actors struggle with some very weak material. The script is near plotless and the focal point, Ving Rhames as Renzo, is an undeveloped character. Mafia proves that almost every film, good or bad, can have its time in the sun.

The story for this film is thin. Renzo is a lackluster crime boss. Renzo's criminal activities involve owning a strip bar and murder. But, he wants to take out the local drug competition, despite his lack of interest in drug dealing. This plot element is strange. Why is Renzo killing off his competition when he is not producing product of his own? Regardless, a turf war takes place in New York City and the viewer is the one being assaulted. If you are looking for a reason to watch this film, then you will not find that reason in the film's story.

The poor film elements in this piece are numerous. The film barely clocks in at seventy-five minutes. This title can barely be considered a feature. As well, the film is set in the '70s, but the film does not have that carefree vibe of the era. Costumes look stiff and unworn. Sets look cheap and this title adds little to the '70s eastcoast gangster decade. Even the conclusion is anti-climactic. A showdown was needed between Renzo and all of the other characters, who despised him. These elements and a few more create for another movie amateur hour.

The acting from the cast also leaves something to be desired. The young stripper with a heart of gold is unconvincing with her lines and reactions. As well, Rhames seems to sleep walk through this supposed thriller. From minor to major characters, the actors are forced to work with some very light material. This material makes the delivery of dialogue come across as awkward and forced. There is no real emotion here, for the actors to telegraph.

The most detrimental film element in this piece involves the writing. This critic is unfamiliar with Combs' previous work, but this piece is given very little enthusiasm in the writing department. The characters come across as cardboard cut-outs and none of the characters seem to connect with each other, on a believable level. The conflicts are comical. In one sub-plot, a police detective is trying to set Renzo up for the death of a cop. Yet, she goes about framing the criminal rather than using normal police work. It seems strange that James (Pam Grier) would risk a career and her life to take Renzo down in this way. Renzo's crime spree provides plenty of opportunity to arrest him the conventional way. But, logic and reason should be damned. This film is damned, as well.

Mafia is a truly terrible film. From acting to scriptwriting, this film provides so many reasons to stop watching. Hopefully, this review will stop some film fans from seeing this title as Combs' latest does not deliver a tense, nor entertaining time. Also, there is no evidence of a Mafia appearing in this film. Those viewers seeking some Italian Gambinos will be sorely disappointed.

Overall: 5 out of 10 (really bad, short, characters are one-sided, plot points do not create any real conflict, actors fumble through awkward lines).

*released on DVD February 5th.

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