Peeping behind the curtain at the recent kickback scandals involving ministers, politicians, heads of police, the secret serviceand high-finance power brokers, “State Secret” works in just about every recent headline in a clever, fast-moving political thriller. Though aimed mainly at the Italo market, where the refs are familiar, pic requires no special knowledge to sort the good guys from the baddies, and could swing into mainstream Euro markets.
Helmer Giuseppe Ferrara has made a career out of bringing political outrages to the screen (“One Hundred Days in Palermo,””The Moro Affair,””Giovanni Falcone”). “State Secret” is the most exciting of the bunch, thanks in part to the decision by him and his writers to avoid simply retelling another famous assassination.
Characters here are a morph of real ones, and story is fictitious. Nevertheless, pic’s frontal attack on Italy’s sinister secret services reportedly garnered Luciano Martino, one of the producers, several anonymous death threats before film was even released.
Story revolves around a heroic young cop from the anti-Mafia squad, Carlo Tommasi (Massimo Ghini), who is called out of early retirement to investigate a bomb that exploded in downtown Milan, killing five. The case is hot because an upright minister (Giampiero Bianchi) and the stern state prosecutor Francesca Savona (Isabel Russinova) don’t believe secret service boss Ravida (Adalberto Maria Merli) when he produces a guilty party in the space of a few hours.
The supposed bomber soon keels over dead in prison, Savona’s secretary is murdered, and various flamboyant attempts are made to bump off Tommasi. The key to everything is Beppe Fossati (the fine Massimo Dapporto), a secret agent who has fallen out of favor with Ravida.
Action sequences, modeled on American and French actioners, are among the fastest and most exciting Italian films have produced up to now.
Pic is weighed down by some old-fashioned, unrealistic dialogue. Some cliches are howlers, but auds may be too swept up in the action to care very much.
As Tommasi, the dashing Ghini is a self-assured crime-buster who can shoot from both hips and take on a slew of adversaries without suffering a scratch. Mariella Valentini has a few sexy walk-ons as his ironic lover, a crack newswoman. Russinova, as the investigating judge, comes across with strong moral appeal.
Adriano Tagliavia’s cutting gives film its gripping rhythm, while lenser Claudio Cirillo’s dramatic effects with light and shadow produce a number of striking effects. Pino Donaggio’s score screeches at times.