The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

La Scorta

I'm typically on the look-out for hidden gems when I'm browsing through Netflix's library of movies. You never know what you might find out there. That's what I thought when I stumbled across an Italian crime film, 1993's La Scorta. Reviews were generally positive, and it sounded like an entertaining, low budget flick. Well, this one may be hidden for a reason.

Reassigned to a precinct in Sicily after an incident in Rome, police officer Angelo (Claudio Amendola) is going home to a much more dangerous posting. A local judge has been assassinated, and the new judge, Michele de Francesco (Carlo Cecchi), has arrived similarly looking to make an impact in the community. Angelo is assigned as part of the judge's escort, a four-man team assigned almost around the clock duty as his body guard. The team is led by Corsale (Enrico Lo Verso), a young but experienced officer, who Angelo clashes with at first. Bigger things arise though because Francesco intends to be an upright and honest official, and the Mafia and the crime families want nothing to do with him. His escort is on high alert, attempts on the judge's life possibly waiting around every corner.

Here's a good sign the DVD you're watching is made for as little money as has no menu and no scenes. That's the case here. It was like watching a VHS except on a disc. Onto the movie though which does have a realistic feel to the developing story because it isn't a highly polished, stylish look at the judge's escort. The low budget effect works here because of that. Sicily provides a great backdrop for the crime story that certainly has its moments, but I'm not sure what director Ricky Tognazzi was going for. 'Scorta' was based on a true story, and it appears he hasn't embellished the true story in the slightest. Moments of brilliance interrupted by stretches of dullness that goes nowhere.

A judge arrives in town, he's assigned an escort, he tries to go up against the corrupt system including fellow politicians and Mafia families. Nothing new there, right? Familiar doesn't mean bad, but in choosing to stick with the true story, 'Scorta' basically leaves out anything interesting. The efforts taken by the judge and his escort basically accomplish nothing. Attempts are made on both the bodyguards and the judge, responses are made, and then the movie ended. Maybe it's just on me. My head was wrapped around an action movie similar to The Mission, made six years later. There is little to no action here. I'm just not sure. If a message was meant to be delivered, it came up short. If a straightforward story of a noble but pointless effort by an honest politician was the goal, that works to a point. I came away empty from this movie though.

Now as a fan of men-on-a-mission movies, I can't completely throw this one under the bus. The parts of the movie that work best are the ones focusing on Angelo, Corsale and the team, and later on the team's bonding with the Judge. The performances are uniformly solid. Like the movie on the whole, the characters are understated and subtle. There aren't a lot of theatrics that come across as fake. When possible hit attempts do come up, the scenes are dripping with tension and adrenaline. A parked car on a country road could be a car bomb. How to find out? One car drives right at it while the other car carrying the judge holds back. You understand the quick bond that forms among the escort and the Judge. These men are placed in a situation where death is a probable end result, not just likely. They have to trust each other or die. Simple as it gets.

The four members of the team are pretty stock characters, ones you've most likely seen in other similar-minded movies. Amendola as Angelo is the main character, the native Sicilian and a good police officer who's nonetheless come under fire for a past incident. He's hot-tempered but only because he knows how dangerous his job is. Lo Verso as Corsale is the leader, the officer quickly rising through the ranks. He worries about his family back home while balancing the constant threat of an attack. There's also Fabio (Ricky Memphis), the youngest and inexperienced officer of the bunch who's seeking a transfer out to a better posting, and Raffaele (Tony Sperandeo), a middle-aged officer with a fiance he keeps secret so he can stay with the escort. Cecchi as the Judge is compassionate and a fighter, making it easy to see why his escort is willing to put their lives on the line for him.

I feel like I've used this a lot recently, but La Scorta had a ton of potential but never quite delivers on it. I wanted to like it, but there just wasn't enough to bring me in and keep me there.

La Scorta <---trailer (1993): **/****

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