Avenging Angelo

cast: Sylvester Stallone, Madeleine Stowe, Raoul Bova, Harry Van Gorkum, and Anthony Quinn

director: Martyn Burke

93 minutes (15) 2002
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
High Fliers Cinema Club DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Donald Morefield

An unremarkable gangster comedy, closer in both style and content to Demme’s Married To The Mob (1988) than the more satirical Analyse This (1999), this is a modestly budgeted picture notable only for being the last film to feature Anthony Quinn (Fellini’s La Strada, 1954, and – famously, Lawrence Of Arabia, 1962, and Zorba The Greek, 1964) who died shortly before shooting was completed. Here, he plays the aged mafia kingpin of the title, who’s forced to remain apart from his daughter, Jennifer (Madeleine Stowe), because of a Sicilian vendetta against his family. Frankie (Stallone, struggling to play vulnerability, again) is Angelo’s surrogate son, charged with the duty of watching over Jennifer throughout her childhood and into adult life. Of course, he has long since fallen in love with her from a distance, yet only gets his chance to woo her after Angelo is assassinated. The problem is that Jennifer belongs to the privileged but shallow Long Island set of ladies who lunch, while Frankie is just a poor but, admittedly, fairly competent hoodlum who really wants to be an Italian chef…
Packaged as a thriller, downplaying the movie’s goofy slapstick routines, black comedy moments and fairy tale romantic aspects, Avenging Angelo is as full of awkwardness and uncertainty as its central characters, as they stumble towards a dream marriage after the expected twist ending. However, Stallone is endearingly sympathetic as the hitman overcoming a lifetime of regrets, while the ever-lovely Stowe is appealingly confused, even if her character is plainly stuck-up in anxious denial.

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After the discovery of her husband’s adultery and the facts of her adoption are revealed, Jennifer’s behaviour changes drastically, as she turns impulsive and becomes determined to avenge her real father’s death.
As she proved in Closet Land (1991), The Last Of The Mohicans (1992), Short Cuts (1993), Blink (1994) and even Twelve Monkeys (1995), Stowe is a bankable Hollywood star who really can act in complex dramatic roles. But here, she falls back upon expressive yet clichéd double-takes and emotional rethinks that seem like a job better suited to a comparatively lightweight actress like Goldie Hawn, and this film is largely a waste the leading lady’s acting talents. That said, Stowe is still arresting ‘eye candy’, looking great in her mid-forties for the intentionally farcical bedroom scene where she’s in scarlet lingerie and stilettos.
The lack of any psychological depth in its characters aside, Avenging Angelo remains likeable enough nonsense that should pass an hour and a half without too much disappointment.
The budget-priced DVD release has Dolby digital 5.1 sound, plus the choice of widescreen or full-frame (4:3) versions. Disc extras include a standard making-of featurette (22 minutes), a 10-minute filmed interview with screenwriters Will Aldis and Steve Mackall – overfull of forced humour, a director’s commentary (where Martyn Burke refers to everything from Sleeping Beauty and Shaw’s Pygmalion to Puccini’s opera Turandot as thematic influences!), and a trailer that, unfortunately, includes every one of the film’s best lines.