Angels of Evil (Vallanzasca – Gli Angeli Del Male) sets out to tell the story of an infamous criminal demonised and idolised in equal measure in the Italy of the 1970s/80s. However, the film largely fails to convey the sort of charisma that would have young women sending fan mail and risqué photographs to a man whose crimes have no other justification. We see glimpses of Vallanzasca’s seemingly happy childhood (single traumatic episode excepted, though even this is not clearly explained) followed by brief stints in juvenile detention and his eventual evolution into a sort of lovable gangster, a down and dirty not-quite-a-gentleman thief, but the film at least  lacks the charm to allow us to buy into Vallanzasca’s lifestyle choices or even really care very much about him at all. Things proceed in a very episodic way that prevents any of kind insight either into the characters themselves or into the larger political landscape and any connections between the two. The direction is also very hit and miss, there are some nice montages and skillful editing but overall bland, even the action sequences which seem as if they ought to be thrilling, aren’t. It’s also very loud, the pounding glam rock which cuts in and out of the action is presumably meant to ramp up the tension but really fails to do so, instead it just reinforces the brashness of film. In fact, ‘brash’ would sum up the film entirely. It’s sleazier than it needs to be and only narrowly escapes exploitation territory, it’s in your face but then has nothing to say. Disappointing, not recommended.

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