Rob the Mob, 2014.
Directed by Raymond De Felitta.
Starring Michael Pitt, Nina Arianda, Andy Garcia, Ray Romano, Aida Turturro and Frank Whaley.
In an attempt to escape their humdrum existence and two bit jobs with a debt collection agency, New Yorkers Tommy and Rosie Uva hatch a clever plan to rob some local mafia members of their ill gotten gains. The success of their initial raid results in a sudden fame and notoriety, which goes to their heads with disastrous results.
When you think of the classic gangster films, certain elements and examples stand out. Grit, violence and an underlying heavy air of menace, colour the stories which unfold on screen: highlights of the genre include such films as the Godfather trilogy and later exercises like Goodfellas and Casino. With this in mind Rob The Mob – the latest film from New York born director Raymond De Felitta – should have all the prerequisite qualities for a tense crime drama. Which is does – to a point.
The fact that De Felitta is a New York kid born and bred comes through. He captures marvellously the atmosphere of the Big Apple’s grimy underbelly, setting the action amongst the rundown tenements and dodgy Mafia bars of the borough of Queen’s. Indeed some sections of the film are reminiscent of the aforementioned Godfather classics, particularly the closing scenes which interconnect the comeuppance of several leading characters with suitable effect. Based on the true story of con-artists Thomas and Rosemarie Uva, from the Ozone Park area of Queens, writer Jonathan Fernandez – for whom Rob The Mob is only the fifth piece he’s penned for the screen – brings the story alive with a feisty version of a modern day ‘Bonnie and Clyde’.
Other factors which play in the film’s favour are its main leads. Michael Pitt and Nina Arianda encapsulate perfectly the young couple pushed to deeds of foolhardiness, initially through desperation, and then cockiness as they begin to believe the hype of their own publicity and new found celebrity status. Lending the proceedings gravitas is the presence of seasoned player Andy Garcia, as mobster head honcho Big Al. Having featured in such genre hits as The Untouchables and The Godfather: Part III, this Cuban born actor can do this type of role in his sleep, and brings the character of the Mafia kingpin a cold menace which manages to stay just the right side of believable.
Having said this however Rob The Mob ultimately fails, due to sudden injections of unnecessary humour which periodically appear when the viewer least expects it. Comic scenes – like a prolonged fight with a locked car door which threatens to stymie Tommy and Rosie’s escape during an audacious robbery – seem incongruous amongst the violence and mayhem, spoiling what should, and could, have been an effectively taught and edgy thriller.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Cleaver Patterson is film critic and writer based in London