Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

In director Brian Caunter’s film ‘Chicago Overcoat’ we meet the character of Lou Marazano, played by veteran actor Frank Vincent, as an aging Chicago mobster. As far as mobsters go, Lou is like that old guy in down the hall in accounts receivable, reliable, steady but for whatever reason, be it lack of ambition, or knowing the wrong people, he never really could rise above the level of lower management. Lou narrates for us from his dusty apartment, lamenting the new school mobsters and their lack of respect, the lack of respect he gets from his daughter Angela (Gina D’Ercoli) and also the fact that he’s an old man with no money and is pretty much sick of being in Chicago his whole life. I hear you Lou. I was there for a week and couldn’t wait to get the hell out. Just playing Chicagoland. Go Cubs!

Switch over to big time boss Stefano D’Agostino (Armand Assante). D’Agostino is none too happy about being in jail and is really concerned about some potential witnesses who could theoretically show up at his trial and keep him in jail. Mobsters… I tell you. To keep these potential witnesses silent D’Agostino has his temporary don Lorenzo Galante (Mike Starr) handle things. Old man Lou wants the gig, even though, all things considered, it’s a crap gig but Lou needs some money so he can relocate to Vegas and take care of his daughter and his grandson.

Even though he hasn’t done this thing in well over twenty years Lou is reluctantly given the job and sets about the business of eliminating potential witnesses who could theoretically testify. Lou’s first hit has piqued the interest of half blind grizzled old cop Ralph Maloney (Danny Goldring) who vividly remembers a certain hitman’s calling card from back in the 80’s, that being sending a bouquet of flowers to the widows of those he has taken care of. Along with his young partner Elliot (Barret Walz) Maloney is going to crack this case that has been eluding him for the last twenty five years come hook or crook.

Well… this is one of those ‘one last job’ things for Lou and I don’t know if I’ve seen a movie yet where ‘one last job’ has actually worked out smoothly for anybody. This one won’t be the first. Not even close.

From nearly the first frame to the last ‘Chicago Overcoat’ is one solid piece of cinematic entertainment. Agreed, the tale itself centering around a criminal trying to get one last big score to ride off into the sunset isn’t all that original, but the way the story is told and the perspective from which it is told does feel fresh. The screenwriters have written a very interesting character for Frank Vincent to play and Mr. Vincent plays the character of Lou Marazano very well. In a sense Marazano is pathetic, a lifelong gangster with nothing really to show for it. He’s old, he whines about the good old days, younger mobsters have passed him on the totem pole leaving him stuck shaking down corner merchants for ‘protection’. But he’s also a character that’s not looking for absolution and has no regrets. He’s not a good guy, I mean the man does murder and extort for a living, but he is an honorable character who respects what he does, and his family, and expects the same from those around him which he doesn’t get. Frank Vincent walks a fine line with this character because you don’t necessarily root for the guy, all things considered, but the audience does have a vested interest in will what eventually become of him.

It is the performances that ultimately make this movie, and true, having Frank Vincent, Mike Starr and Armand Assante in a movie playing mobsters isn’t something these vets aren’t unfamiliar with but still, they do it well. In addition to those old-timers, credit also needs to go out Martin Shannon as Lou’s friend and fellow mobster sick of listening to Lou whine and Katherine Narducci as Lou’s old girlfriend who is sick of Lou taking advantage of her.

If I had an issue with ‘Chicago Overcoat’ it would be the ending, which while plenty explosive and action packed, kind of stretched the levels of believability, particularly for a movie in which its greatest asset was the fact that it felt so authentic with its all too human characters and realistic situations and emotions.

Regardless, with its gritty look, great language and its unique take on a familiar story, ‘Chicago Overcoat’ is a gangster flick that was well worth the time.

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