This Italian Crime Drama is based on the real life antics of Renato Vallanzasla, who committed his first `crime' by liberating the more ferocious animals from Milan Zoo at the age of nine - they did him for the tiger, a fair cop really. This was as a statement against bullies apparently.
Whilst at Reform School he became well educated in the life skills one requires to take a life of crime really seriously. As well as learning how to annoy guards in a maximum security prison, he also develops what can only be described as silver tongue with the lucky ladies and a taste of finely executed diction. In short he has rules bordering on the sociopath and not very much to like about him. He is played rather well by Kim Rossi Stuart. We first see him in prison in 1981 getting some extra curricular kicking from the guards, a theme that reoccurs throughout the film.
When he is out he has some henchman including his best friend Enzo ( Filippo Timi), and just like girls they too just wanna have fun. Their version of fun involves bank robbery, shootings, robbery and kidnappings. The proceeds of which get spent on women with questionable morals and drugs of questionable origin and lots of Alfa Romeos.
There are great period details, the cars and the clothes (seventies fashion Italian style - magnifico!), the music is a modern soundtrack, but it actually really works. Where it has issues is around Vallanzasla and his crew. They are all rather incompetent in that childish way that makes them look as if shoe lace tying had yet been on their `to be learnt' schedule. Vallanzasla as head honcho lacks warmth, when he cries it is for his loss and the irony that he uses starts off by coming across as comedy, but ends as dysfunctional enemy of society. Fair play to director Michele Placido as that is how it plays out on screen but a few scenes after you actually start to find the little cuss less than endearing.
Still it runs at 125 minutes and I enjoyed nigh on all of it, there is some nasty violence and make up had to get their fake blood bottles out on more than one occasion, but it isn't gratuitous. A lot of it is down to incompetence or stupidity, which is a bit of relief from all the slick crime capers that normally get churned out, these guys even have to push start the get-away car at one point, an Alfa, and they wear stockings to rob banks, which I thought was marvellous. It also oozes style as it is Italian, except for the stockings on head bits,and you would expect that and as far as it goes this is another well above average film to come out of Europe in recent years. If you like Meserine you will like this but the French effort probably has the edge, this though is stand out in its own way.