Lazarus … Claudio Amendola
Andrea … Kim Rossi Stuart
Sante … Michele Placido
Stella … Nadia Fares
Valeria … Stefania Rocca
Berardi … Luigi Diberti
Guido … Roberto Citran
Aureli … Fulvio Milani
Cantu … Mario Aterrano
Bunny … Franco Diogene
The cop-action genre has never been an Italian specialty, but “Policemen” stands a notch above most attempts. Pic borrows many elements from the more indigenous genre of the political thriller, including sensitive, PC handling of its lower-income characters and a fine cast led by Claudio Amendola and emerging star Kim Rossi Stuart. Not really a fest item, pic boasts careful direction and lively scripting that point to above-average returns onshore, with some international sales likely.
Produced by Claudio Bonivento, Vittorio Cecchi Gori and his spouse, Rita, pic is identifiably from the Bonivento factory, bearing more than a passing resemblance to the 1993 thriller “La Scorta.” Aimed to walk the thin line between an action-packed crowd pleaser and a film with a social message, “Policemen” lacks true originality but satisfies as a high-grade genre film.
Third-time helmer Giulio Base (“Crack,””Lest”) opens the film Yank-style with an adrenalin-stirring shootout in a debauched disco. Lazarus (Amendola), a tough undercover cop on the vice squad, knocks off a trio of baddies and promptly gets transferred to a desk job in Turin for overly trigger-happy policing.
He befriends baby-faced Andrea (Rossi Stuart), still wet behind the ears but dedicated to the force. (All the men in his family are cops.) When Andrea is assigned to keep watch over dangerous crime lord Sante (Michele Placido), who’s in hospital after a suicide attempt, the stage is set for disaster as Lazarus leaves Andrea on his own while he settles private scores.
Though predictable, the tale unfolds tensely, like a classic tragedy. The talented Rossi Stuart (who burst on the scene last year in “Senza Pelle”) has the appeal of a defenseless puppy, with sexy good looks added on. As Sante, the smooth-talking, callous-hearted crime boss, Placido coasts through the film without much effort.
Nadia Fares, a Cindy Crawford look-alike, is good in the role of a beauteous chanteuse (and Placido’s moll) with pangs of conscience and a great need to be loved. Her seduction by the gritty Amendola leads to a steamy bedroom scene with mucho nudity.
Violence comes in regular spurts, from large handguns and physical combat. Pic’s unexalted budget shows when it’s time for the regulation car-chase sequence, which is thin on spectacle.
Oscar Prudente’s high-decibel score veers from techno to jazz. Dante Della Torre’s widescreen lensing depicts a moodily saturated, nighttime Turin; Claudio Di Mauro’s cutting is smooth as satin.