After showing us that a sequel to Taken is just Taken 2: Taken Harder, Luc Besson decided to try his hand at a mob movie, but with his own twist. So Robert De Niro is in yet another mob movie, but this time he’s a former mobster who gave up information to the CIA and is now in witness protection and hunted by his former criminal allies. His family and CIA handlers are filled with people you’ve seen before but haven’t been in a big name movie that you care about in a while. The Family wants to ask you, what happens when you try and make a mobster live a normal life?
Sure, you expect mobster Robert De Niro to not be a great guy, but his wife, son and daughter are all borderline sociopathic monsters. His wife, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, blows up a grocery store in the first twenty minutes. His son quickly assess the social structure of his high school and quickly dominates all of the seedy aspects of it. His daughter, played by the lead cheerleader from Glee, beats the shit out of some students for hitting on her in a way only gross teenagers can. Yet De Niro manages to out scumbag everyone.
If Luc Besson’s goal was to make you care about an awful person, he succeeded in spades. Giovanni Manzoni is a scumbag who beats people that annoy him and kills people if he thinks it will solve his problems. He’s charismatic and charming enough to make you care though, I found myself wanting him to win, but knowing that if he died, he absolutely deserved it. There are no heroes in the main cast. Sure, the CIA agents seem like nice guys, but they’re just kind of there, except for Tommy Lee Jones.
There is a fantastic scene involving a certain movie that is so wonderful, but it also highlights some of the problems beyond some severe pacing issues towards the end. As wonderful and brought to life these characters are, we know so little about them. While it wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, they are constantly hinting at a fascinating and deep backstory behind everything. There’s a particular scene between the lead hitman and Manzoni’s daughter at the end that seems to indicate so much more, yet is never explained. Whether they decided to cut the backstories and fill that 30 minutes with that boring block in the middle or if the script was just lacking could be possible.
As much as The Family tries to be the next great mob movie, it kept falling short. It successfully softened the sociopath, but it failed to provide well explained character motivation and backstories that, while we would usually be fine without, were hinted at to the point of frustration. There is plenty of fun to be had, just as long as you’re willing to sit through a sudden a lengthy bit of borderline nothing and red herrings until the explosive finale happens. Just like From Paris With Love, Luc Besson made an enjoyable movie, but The Family isn’t anything spectacular.
In Theaters: September 13, 2013
Runtime: 110 min
Rating: Rated R for violence, language and brief sexuality
Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer , Tommy Lee Jones, Dianna Agron
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
Distributor: Relativity Media
Official Site: https://www.facebook.com/TheFamilyMovie?fref=ts