It often takes years of thorough investigation by government officials to stop the illegal and dangerous actions of the country’s most treacherous and conniving criminals. When two petty thieves put themselves in danger when they uncover an important piece of evidence that will undeniably help law enforcement arrest the gangsters, but are forgotten and left unprotected by the officials, justice isn’t fully served. That lack of integrity is intriguingly explored in Academy Award-nominated director Raymond de Felitta’s new crime thriller, ‘Rob the Mob,’ which is set to open tomorrow at New York’s Angelika Film Center. Based on a true story, the film is a heartbreaking story that follows two lovers who are put in harm’s way after their daring heists of Mafia social clubs result in a discovery that could forever change the face of organized crime in America.
‘Rob the Mob’ follows the true story of Thomas (Michael Pitt) and Rosemarie Uva (Nina Arianda), two small-time crooks in 1991 in New York City. The couple, who were both recently released from jail after stealing from a flower shop on Valentine’s Day, tries to turn their lives around. After Rosie lands a job at a debt-collection agency, she persuades Tommy to join her. However, their low wages push Tommy to skip his shifts and attend the trial of Gambino-family boss John Gotti. After hearing the testimony from hit man Sammy “The Bull” Gravano about the Mafia-owned social clubs where Gotti and his fellow criminals spent time and held their money, Tommy decides to strike out against the Mob.
Tommy’s drive to seek revenge on the Mafia comes from witnessing his father suffer a brutal beating beat at the hands of local gangsters. After hearing the clubs don’t allow guns, he comes up with the idea to waltz into the clubs, wielding a Uzi, and rob the gangsters. After convincing Rosie to drive the getaway car, the two ransack enough cash to fully support themselves. While the two are celebrating, they unknowingly draw the attention of the FBI and veteran mob reporter Cardozo (Ray Romano), who chronicles their unlikely story across the front page of the paper.
After seeing the coverage, Bonanno crime family head Big Al (Andy Garcia) orders his men not to kill the couple, who have been nicknamed Bonnie and Clyde by the press, and instead only scare them. But the crime boss comes to regret the decision, as during one of their heists, Tommy and Rosie discover a closely guarded Mafia secret-a list of its members and their information. To the Feds, it’s the key they’ve been looking to finally dismantling New York’s crime syndicate. To Big Al, it’s the high cost of his earlier leniency, which is a mistake he quickly moves to correct. For Tommy and Rosie, who caught between the law and a mob contract, the future all depends on who gets to them first.
Screenwriter Jonathan Fernandez created an intriguing, gripping and true-to-life portrait of the lengths not only the Mafia takes to protect its members, but also the need for revenge by the people and their families who they’ve wronged. The scribe both expressively and amusingly chronicled the emotional and financial struggles of a young couple who were trying to make ends meet and fix their lives after being released from prison. Tommy and Rosie, who are also both still contending with the pain the Mafia caused him and his family after his father died, are shown to honestly want to improve their lives. But after continuously being neglected by a society who doesn’t wish to help them, their turn to stealing from those they felt wronged them the most is somewhat understandable.
Tommy and Rosie’s credulous belief that nothing bad will happen to them if they eventually stop robbing the Mafia social clubs and move out of New York emphasizes their naivety about the strength and power of the people they’re going up against. While Big Al and the rest of the Bonanno family are humanely shown as caring for their families and loved ones, ‘Rob the Mob’ also expertly highlights the gangsters’ anger over being targeted and taken advantage of by the couple, as well as the government. While the gangsters use their lawyers’ legal prowess as long as they can to stay out of prison, they more carelessly target Tommy and Rosie by following and intimidating them on the street. The mobsters want nothing more than to protect themselves and their lifestyle, much like the couple does, but are drastically different, as they’re frighteningly shown as relying on whatever violent means necessary to secure what they want.
‘Rob the Mob’ is an expressive, heartbreaking tale that humanizes Tommy and Rosie as petty criminals who were determined to seek revenge and vengeance on the gangsters who dramatically altered his life as a child, as they struggled to survive financially and emotionally as adults. While the two plausibly fell back on the criminal life they felt so comfortable in in order to survive, their discontent over the luxurious, free lives many of the gangsters were leading made their actions almost understandable. De Felitta created a gripping, relatable crime-thriller that smartly focused on the motivations of its main characters, instead of just building continuous action sequences void of true meaning, which will undoubtedly leave viewers questioning how far people should go to stand up for themselves.