Gangster clichés fly like submachine gun bullets in the Italian crime biopic "Angel of Evil," a restless and hollow rundown of '70s criminal Renato Vallanzasca (Kim Rossi Stuart).
The Milan mobster robbed, kidnapped and terrorized with a pitiless conviction ("I was born to be a thief," his narration tells us), which earned him a media-friendly cult status all over Italy. But even sporting a centralized figure drawn from a real-life, seesaw reign of lawlessness, notoriety and multiple incarcerations — keeping track of the different prison settings alone is its own story-comprehension battle — director/co-writer Michele Placido prefers quick-n-easy bites of rock-scored ruthlessness and gang-loyalty sentimentality.
Nowhere to be found are the kind of eccentric vicissitudes that make "Goodfellas" the much-imitated exemplar of movies about big, bad lives. Besides, Stuart doesn't have the dangerous charisma of Scorsese's regulars or recent heavyweight villain portrayals from Edgar Ramirez ("Carlos") and Vincent Cassel ("Mesrine").
Though there's no shortage of mustache-quivering energy and wide-collared strutting, "Angel of Evil" can't separate itself enough from the pack as a character piece to be memorable as anything other than a blood-spattered timeline.
"Angel of Evil." MPAA running: R for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, some sexual content, nudity and drug use. Running time: 2 hours, 8 minutes. At Mann Chinese 6 Theatres, Hollywood.