Anyone who feared that Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” might have been Robert De Niro’s last serious old-school mafia film can breathe a sigh of relief. Based on a true story, in “Wise Guys” he not only plays a mobster, but two (!) gangsters who want to get at each other’s leather.
Robert De Niro embodies both Vito Genovese and Frank Costello. Both successfully run their clans in the mid-20th century, but compete with each other. In 1957 Genovese then tried to murder Costello, but he survived. However, after the injuries sustained in his attempt on his life, he wants to get out of criminal life. But you don’t leave the mafia behind.
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Incidentally, Costello is considered an inspiration for Marlon Brando’s Vito Corleone in “The Godfather” and Martin Scorsese named the crime boss played by Jack Nicholson in “The Departed” after the real person. Genovese has also appeared in several mafia films, played by actors such as Eli Wallach (in “Testament in Lead”) or Steven Bauer (in “The Godfather of New York”).
How the special twist that Robert De Niro now plays both roles in one film will be presented on screen with great anticipation. Incidentally, “Wise Guys” was written by Nicholas Pileggi, who was once responsible for “Goodfellas” and “Casino” with De Niro. He hasn’t filmed a screenplay since 1996’s political thriller City Hall, so now he’s making a comeback. Another “Goodfellas” acquaintance is involved. Oscar winner Irwin Winkler is reproducing the film. However, he once won his golden boy not for “Goodfellas”, but more than a decade earlier for “Rocky”.
When it comes to directing, of course, many should be hoping for Martin Scorsese. But another old warrior does it. “Rainman” –Director Barry Levinson has staged De Niro for the sixth time. Both have already worked together on “Sleepers” and “Wag The Dog”.
In Hollywood, “Wise Guys” is also watched with special eagle eyes. It is one of the very first original projects that Warner is now launching under the new leadership. The new boss of the legendary Hollywood studio David Zaslav made headlines when he prevented the release of the almost wacky “Batgirl” movie. He also gave the route to focus more on films exclusively for the cinema.
“Wise Guys” is now being produced for the cinema and is said to have been promoted personally by Zaslav as an important film. At first glance, however, it is not a project that sounds like the future. Rather, it’s a real old man’s film, in which all those involved who are known to date are well past their actual retirement age. Robert De Niro is the youngest at 78, Levinson is 80, Pileggi is 89 and producer Winkler is 91.
It is not yet known when Wise Guys will be released. However, since the Zaslav project is said to be very important, it could be promoted with high priority for a theatrical release in 2023. Incidentally, in 2023 we will also see De Niro in a film by Martin Scorsese: “Killers Of The Flower Moon” will then come to the streaming service AppleTV+ and to the cinema.
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