My first and hopefully not last Netflix Original review. The Ruthless, or “Lo spietato” in Italian, is an interesting tale of a young rebellious kid who becomes one of the most ambitious criminals in Milan during the 1980s.
The movie isn’t in English so the first thing you may notice is the words don’t actually match their lips and the words may actually be translated literally. At least that is the vibe I got because nobody actually speaks the way say do during certain situations. Personally, I think it adds to the authenticity of the film and I am torn between if it should have been kept with the English voice over or if it should have been in the native tongue with subtitles.
The movie follows Santo Russo, played by Riccardo Scamarcio, from his late teens to his eventual forced retirement in the early 2000s from his criminal organization. The movie is also narrated by Santo to help explain in more detail what he is thinking which gives us a closer look into his mind instead of just his actions.
It all starts when he mistakenly gets arrested for stealing a scooter and his father basically disowns him when the police call. All for not showing up to a New Year’s Eve dinner with some other family. He ends up in the Italian equivalent for Juvenile Hall where he is quickly picked on and beat up by some other guys his age or older. It is here he meets one of his best friends & right-hand muscle. The two of them quickly turn the tide inside the jail. Once the two of them are out they meetup with a third, gum chewing criminal. I tried to identify him from the time in the prison, but I couldn’t.
The three of them quickly get involved in organized crime and begin their journey to the top. Along the way Santo is reacquainted with the girl he met way back in the beginning before he got arrested. The two of them get married before he ends up getting arrested again. When he gets out, he is a father but doesn’t hesitate to go back to his old ways while keeping it a complete secret from his wife. All is well until he ends up meeting his mistress and then it begins to heat up.
Eventually his organization turns to the manufacturing and distribution of drugs, which as we know is usually the downfall to most organized crime organizations since things begin to go south despite the massive amounts of money they generate. It turns out his longtime friend and right-hand is using the drugs and gets picked up by the cops. Santo himself puts it clearly in is narrative that once you start using the product you become the product. Or something along those lines. This puts Santo in a tough spot since a rival is also in jail and they have the same lawyer. Santo is able to get his friend freed but we all know what needs to be done.
With his friend out of the picture it spells the beginning of the end for Santo. His marriage has collapsed and his mistress is gone. He has begun to hesitate when killing people because he starts to see is his old friend instead of the people he needs to kill. He even lets one rival go and we all know loose ends are never good for business. Eventually he gets arrested one last time and this time he makes a deal. He gives up everything and everyone and is allowed to start a new life as one of the most hated men in the Italian criminal underworld only to forever be looking over his shoulder.
I hope I didn’t spoil it for you since the movie itself has a lot to offer and I wanted to give you a basic understanding of what’s happening without telling you everything. The movie is telling a story and since it skips years a few times character development seems sudden but one thing is apparent throughout, Santo’s ambition. The really only confusing parts of the movie are after his mistress leaves and he is back with his wife in his old house. The second is when he sees his mistress right before he gets arrested in the end.
Despite the English dub over and a minor detail of a car without a headlight to suddenly having a headlight the filming is superb and completely down to earth. It provides a sense of comedy with the serious tone of a ruthless criminal which shows nothing is truly black and white. It doesn’t get your emotions going but it keeps you intrigued as to what will happen next or if his grisly end is right around the corner.
If you have Netflix and haven’t seen this yet I would highly recommend it. I kept saying how good it was while watching it. It is shot simply and nothing is over the top. It is the second movie I have watched on Netflix which I actually enjoyed. The first was so bad we turned it off after ten minutes.
I give it a weak five stars since I don’t have a half star rating system. This is the first five-star movie on Rob’s Reviews!