The Many Saints of Newark movie review: Does the movie stick the landing?

(L-r) COREY STOLL as Junior Soprano, unnamed extra, VERA FARMIGA as Livia Soprano, JON BERNTHAL as Johnny Soprano, MICHAEL GANDOLFINI as Teenage Tony Soprano, GABRIELLA PIAZZA as Joanne Moltisanti and ALESSANDRO NIVOLA as Dickie Moltisanti in New Line Cinema and Home Box Office’s mob drama “THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Barry Wetcher
(L-r) COREY STOLL as Junior Soprano, unnamed extra, VERA FARMIGA as Livia Soprano, JON BERNTHAL as Johnny Soprano, MICHAEL GANDOLFINI as Teenage Tony Soprano, GABRIELLA PIAZZA as Joanne Moltisanti and ALESSANDRO NIVOLA as Dickie Moltisanti in New Line Cinema and Home Box Office’s mob drama “THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Barry Wetcher /
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The Sopranos universe is back and the gabagool is flowing (can anyone tell me what gabagool is?). The highly anticipated The Many Saints of Newark hit theaters and HBO Max on October 1 after having been delayed seven months due to COVID.

Set in Newark during the 1967 race riots, The Many Saints of Newark explores the war between the cultural mobs of that era. The exciting part for many Sopranos fans was the fact that Michael Gandolfini is playing his father’s character of Tony Soprano, with Michael Imperiolo (who played Chris Moltisanti) narrating.

Sopranos show-runner David Chase co-wrote the film along with Lawrence Konner. Chase was eager to bring this project to an audience, but has voiced his displeasure with the decision to make the film a day-and-date release. Chase wanted it be known that The Many Saints of Newark is a standalone movie and should be watched on the big screen.

I agree with Chase’s position, that not only this movie, but most movies deserve to be seen in the theater. The cinematography in this one really struck me and they nailed the feel of the late ’60s.

The Many Saints of Newark tries to blend two separate story lines into one

In terms of the plot, the story focuses mainly on the predecessors of The Sopranos characters. Jon Bernthal plays Tony Soprano’s father, Johnny and Alessandro Nivola plays Dickie Moltisanti. The Many Saints of Newark tries to blend two separate story lines into one and for me, it doesn’t fully stick the landing.

The inciting incident occurs when Newark police assault an African-American taxi cab driver as riots ensue. We see about a quarter of the movie follow that particular narrative, but it never really seemed to resolve itself. It almost felt like this was a Sopranos story with another story shoehorned in.

In my opinion, this story may have played better as a mini-series to fully flesh out the complete narrative.

It can also be noted that The Many Saints of Newark truly does feel like a gangster movie. The gratuitous violence was fully on display, including several gruesome shootout scenes. This, to me, set it apart from The Sopranos. The Sopranos didn’t necessarily shy away from violence, but when they did use it on the show it was few and far between or off-screen.

Ultimately, I would say I was slightly disappointed with this film. Not that I had high expectations going in, but I thought it had some pacing issues and competing narratives that felt disjointed at times. I will say the final scenes ended abruptly and I loved that touch as it echoed the ending of The Sopranos series.

Overall, it didn’t land for me, but I think it’s more than enjoyable especially for fans of the show and hopefully it introduces a younger audience to The Sopranos universe.

My score: 5.9/10

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