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Brooklyn Rules
cast: Alec Baldwin, Freddie Prinze Jr, Scott Caan, Jerry Ferrara, and Mena Suvari

producer and director: Michael Corrente

95 minutes (15) 2007
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Icon DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by James A. Stewart
I once read a review that started something like; 'the problem with gangster movies is that they tend to rely on violence as a vehicle on which the story is delivered'. Genius. Brooklyn Rules is yet another gangster yarn set in the 'Big Apple'. With a genre as flooded as this the real problem is not the violence but the search for that spark that sets one gangster movie apart from another. We've had Goodfellas, Casino, and The Godfather trilogy to name but a few classics in this field. Brooklyn Rules will not be talked about with the same reverence as these monsters of the mob-movie, but it is nonetheless an addition to the canon that is not without its merits.

Brooklyn Rules is written by Terence Winter, writer of The Sopranos, and is well within his comfort zone, which means that some of the action and dialogue feels a touch familiar. The story centres on three young boys who find a gun alongside dead body, a discovery setting in a motion a series of events that changes their lives. Then we zoom forward 20 or so years to see what has become of these would-be hoodlums as they struggle through life. It is in the classic coming-of-age bracket that is so familiar in flashback movies like this offering.

Director Michael Corrente (Federal Hill) once again shows his potential with a well-crafted offering in this piece. Many New York landmarks are subtly dropped into show and apparently the film was done end-to-end in just 30 days. Corrente uses a strong cast, not A-listers, but powerful performers regardless, to good effect. His reliance on some of the classic mob movies of yesteryear for inspiration is clear throughout. He uses the experience of Alex Baldwin and exuberance of Scott Caan superbly well. The former, every housewife's favourite Baldwin, puts in a particularly resonant performance as the local head of the mob, although he is arguably under-used here. His depiction of a warm-with-undercurrent-of-danger mob boss is quite convincing.

The soundtrack to Brooklyn Rules is straight from the outlandish and brightly packed 'NOW' series of the mid-1980s and will delight and annoy in equal measure. However, the use of some the tracks borders on formulaic for this type of film and is where Corrente can be most criticised, some of the song selection feels somewhat lazy.

Brooklyn Rules is a pretty darn decent film and is short enough not to get to up itself, a major flaw in some Godfather wannabes. The pacing is sound, the direction clear and the cast all do a good job. At 95 minutes it is well worth seeing and with its cleverly intertwining of the story of John Gotti with fiction it gives an air of authenticity to the story that will keep the viewer watching.

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