Il boss

Il bossSynopsis: Based largely on real people and actual events, Fernando Di Leo’s action-packed film – the final part of his Milieu Trilogy – is his boldest commentary on corruption and the criminal underworld. A bomb attack in a cinema in Palermo kills all the members of one mafia family except for Cocchi. Realizing that the instigator of the bomb attack is Daniello from another mafia family, Cocchi is determined to revenge. Lanzetta, a hired killer employed by Daniello is told to assassinate the rival family. Following Lanzetta’s successful hit he finds himself in the midst of the ensuing gangland war, with Daniello attempting to turn him into the police, his boss’ daughter kidnapped, and the rival gang looking for revenge.


Il boss 7.75

eyelights: its construction. its thrilling action.
eyesores: its one-note plot. its non-ending.

‘Il boss’ is a 1973 Italian crime film based on Peter McCurtin’s novel ‘Mafioso’. It is the third in the so-called “Milieu trilogy” (i.e. they aren’t related by plot or characters, only by theme) from famed poliziottesco writer-director Fernando Di Leo.

This time, his picture focuses on a turf war between different mob families, beginning with the assassination of a Don and his associates in a private cinema house. From that point onward, it’s a virtual duck hunt, as rivals peck each other off.

Our protagonist is Nick Lanzetta, played by Henry Silva. He’s the assassin at the centre of it all, and he’s one of Don Daniello’s closest allies. But Nick is caught between his loyalty and his ambition. Should he side with Daniello, or his superior?

Lanzetta is a true professional: while some of his peers think with their guts, he does everything by the book, based on a long-term vision. Silva is perfect in the part, emoting so little that he’s fully believable as someone who is tough as nails.

And cold-blooded: this guy has no qualms making brutal decisions when needed.

Or to send a message.

While he’s on a ceaseless campaign of violence (the opening salvo alone has him setting the cinema ablaze with exploding cartridges!), however, Daniello’s daughter is kidnapped by his rivals, asking the Don to turn himself in in exchange.

This changes the game: Now Daniello, under orders not to give in to the blackmail by Don Corrasco, is weakening, leaving a huge power vacuum in his place. That gives Lanzetto a few ideas, which lead to the further eradication of other rivals.

As with ‘Milano calibre 9‘, ‘Il boss’ indulges in a little bit of commentary, with a corrupt police commissioner, Torri, complaining to his boss that government policy rewarding informants and relocating Dons, creates these turf wars and chaos.

His complaints go unheeded, however, as his boss has plenty of issues already: the anti-mafia squad has been investigating his staff and putting pressure on him. Torri is their next target, and there’s very little protection that he can afford him.

Further complicating matters is that Rizzo, one of the Pontiff’s lawyers, is involved with the criminal underworld and is asking Don Corrasco to put a lid on the violence. That puts Lanzetto in a bind, of which there is only one escape: more violence.

It’s not immediately apparent, but ‘Il boss’ may not just be a film intent on titillating a blood-thirsty public: it may have the ultimate purpose of trying to warn the audience about the endless cycle of violence that a life of crime can lead to.

The key indication of this is the ending, which closes with “to be continued…”: There was never a sequel, or any hint of one, even though it ended abruptly, with the beginning of yet another hit. This suggests that Di Leo wanted to convey a message.


Either way, even if it was the first half of an incomplete two-parter, ‘Il boss’ is worth seeing: it’s an adrenaline-fueled scorcher filled with action, sex, a high body count and enough twists to leave audiences dazzled. It’s a fitting end to Di Leo’s trilogy.

And yet… it’s given me a taste for more convoluted strings of gang hits and ceaseless double-crosses.

I suspect that more Di Leo is on the horizon.

Date of viewing: February 25, 2016

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