Here is the description I received of this movie: “Retired cop Tony (Tony Sirico) finds he is unable to forget the murder of his younger brother, who was in the mob. He’s outraged when he finds out the man he holds responsible is getting out of prison after only two years. He needs to find answers fast and if necessary, seek revenge, Italian-style. Joined by his attorney nephew, Gaetano (Brendan Fehr), he infiltrates the seamy world of organized crime and gets lost in a labyrinth of greed, dead ends, and lies. It’s only at the violent conclusion that he discovers the shocking truth that threatens to kill him.”
It makes you think this direct-to-DVD movie will be boilerplate, action, mob-stuff. True, there is an abundance of that in Zarra’s Law, and it’s not the most original movie in the genre, but the description is a bit misleading.
There is very little violence, and it only comes near the end. Most of the film is spent dwelling on familial relationships and to some good effect. At times, it feels overdone. There are far too many back slaps and expository lines and gentle jests. But once you get past that, you’ll see Zarra’s Law is less Sly or Arnold dishing out revenge with a high body count and more of a measured build toward eventual violence.
The movie would probably not work without Tony Sirico in the lead. He of “The Sopranos” fame gives us the same chiseled mug, the mumbled tough words, and the brooding presence as he did with Paulie Walnuts, but this time he’s a retired cop and violence is not what he resorts to at first. He carries the same menace in every scene that he did in all his Sopranos performances, and it makes what could easily be a flop interesting. But it’s the patience of the early parts of the movie –and Sirico’s poise– that work best, far more than the concluding fists and guns.
The supporting casting has some names as well, Brendan Fehr, Erin Cummings, and Burt Young, and all turn in decent performances. But the movie is built around Tony Sirico and a palpable feeling of family, neighborhood, and duty.
Zarra’s Law won’t land on the top of anyone’s favorites list, but it’s initial presentation betrays its subtlety and effectiveness.
It is available on DVD starting January 13, 2015.
Directed by: Juha Wuolijoki
Starring: Brendan Fehr (“The Night Shift,” “Roswell”), Erin Cummings (The Iceman), Nick Sandow (“Orange is the New Black”), Tony Sirico (“The Sopranos,” Goodfellas), Burt Young (Rocky movies)
Running Time: 79 minutes