Review by Mark Merrell
The movie opens with an aerial establishing shot of Rome, moving quickly down to the street level, where we catch up to a man running from two other men sharing a motorcycle. The man running away is Enzo (Claudio Santamaria, Casino Royale, Diaz – Don’t Clean Up This Blood). He’s stolen an expensive watch, and is on off like a jackrabbit. Enzo is frantic, and cannot seem to gain any distance on his pursuers, until he crosses paths with a crowd of people protesting against violence, walking in the street.
He manages to get to the banks of the Tiber river. There he finds a small floating work house tied to the bank. He has a master key, and manages to get the door open just as the two men, who we can now see are police, rush by. Not deceived for long, the policemen come back to search the workhouse, but cannot find their suspect. The camera pulls back to a wide shot, and we see Enzo hiding in the river with his head just above the water, but close enough to the ridge of the structure to conceal him.
Soon, the policemen leave. Enzo seems to be standing on something just below the surface, and an underwater shot confirms he’s tip-toeing on the tops of metal barrels left behind. He inadvertently punctures the top of one, loses his footing, and a dark substance engulfs him. When he reaches the surface of the water and eventually the riverbank, he’s gagging horribly. With another look at the barrel, we see it’s marked as, radioactive.
After a horrible night of throwing up, Enzo wakes up perfectly fine in the morning, much to his surprise. He wants to meet up with his friend, Sergio (Stefano Ambrogi, Horse Fever) to pawn off the stolen watch. Sergio lives in the same apartment building, so Enzo heads to Sergio’s. He is met by Sergio’s daughter, Alessia (Ilenia Pastorelli, Niente di Serio) who seems to living in a fantasy world, and she shuts the door on Enzo. He heads off, ending up behind a building, and is asked to wait there for Sergio, who is talking to a group of henchmen, planning a robbery. Sergio is assigned to pick up two people at the airport; a pair of drug smugglers. As it turns out the pair of drug mules are brothers.
The leader of the gang is Zingaro (Luca Marinelli, The Great Beauty, Don’t Be Bad, Every Blessed Day) who is an absolute psychopath and sociopath, and he quickly shows the audience just how ruthless he can be.
Sergio leaves the meeting finding Enzo. He buys the watch Enzo lifted the day before, and the pair head back to Sergio’s before heading to the airport. Once there, Enzo meets up with again with Alessia. Sergio explains that his daughter hasn’t been the same since her mother died. She has a portable DVD player which she uses to constantly watch Steel Jeeg, an animated kids show, featuring the hero crimfighter, Steel Jeeg.
Sergio and Enzo meet the two men, and Sergio drives them to a construction site. They all head up to the ninth floor of the unfinished building. One of the smugglers has swallowed the entire Kilo of drugs to get it by security, and starts to have violent convulsions. Within moments, his agony ends, as he passes away. Sergio explains he has to finish the deal, and pulls out a knife in order to surgically remove the drugs, to the objection of his brother, who pulls out a gun and starts shooting Sergio. Mortally wounded, Sergio is able to beat the shooters head against a wall. He fires his gun at Sergio again, killing him. As the smuggler falls to the floor fatally injured, he somehow manages to fire his gun on Enzo, shooting him in the shoulder. It’s powerful enough to knock Enzo backwards, and he looses his balance, falling nine floors to the ground, landing on his back, appearing to kill Enzo.
After a moment or two, suddenly, Enzo gasps for air, rises up, and runs back to his place, and the movie takes off like a rocket shot from there. Directed by Gabriele Mainette (Tiger Boy, Ningyo) and written by Nicola Guaglianone (7 vite, Invisible) with screenplay by Nicola and Menotti (7 vite, My Wife Is a Zombie), they bring us a brilliant work of art. I really enjoyed this movie on several levels. It gives us a bad guy with an unfulfilled life, who in unsure of himself. Begrudgingly, and as surprising as it is to the character, he becomes a superhero, and one that no doubt rivals any of the DC or Marvel Characters. The cinematography is perfect. Marinelli is brilliant as Zingaro. His charisma enters the room before he even gets there. Once he is in front of the camera, he holds the screen, something not every actor can do. Claudio was magnificent as Enzo. Totally believable without a doubt. Ilenia was spot on as Alessia, displaying a full range of emotion.
This movie really surprised me, but it was a good surprise. This movie is absolutely amazing and very entertaining. I’d love to see what Enzo and Deadpool would be like together. Irregardless, ‘They Call Me Jeeg’ is definitely a must see, and one I know you will enjoy.
Arrives on iTunes May 2.