Mesa Legend
Where 'The Many Saints of Newark' makes its mark is with its memorable, enthralling cast that captures the essence of 'The Sopranos.' (Courtesy of Warner Bros./HBO Max)

‘The Many Saints of Newark’ hits for fans, but that’s about it

“The Many Saints of Newark” gives fans of the hit HBO show “The Sopranos” a nostalgic prequel telling the story of Dickie Moltisanti and his criminal dealings as an Italian mobster. But audience goers who know nothing about “The Sopranos” are most likely to be confused by all the different characters. 

Set in the late ‘60s early ‘70s, the film follows Dickie Moltisanti, played by Alessandro Nivola. Moltisanti is just a man who is trying to do right by his family, especially the nephew who worships him, young Tony Soprano. He becomes a leader after the death of his father during race riots happening in the city of Newark at that time. 

Taking control of the business is harder than he thinks, but soon he comes into his own as a big man in the crime family. While Anthony’s father is in jail, he mentors him and keeps his eye out for him. 

Meanwhile, a man named Harold McBrayer, played by the “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr., decides to use the experience working for Dickie to become his own crime boss and take over the area. All the while Dickie is trying to maintain his relationships with his wife, his mistress/stepmother, as well as the growing influence he has on Tony during his formative years. 

This well-written script is lacking one thing: a clear story. The story that is there ends almost anti-climatically. It’s a satisfying end to a season finale of a television show, but not a film. The characters — the ones you could follow along with their familial relation — were no doubt compelling characters. There was just so much packed into the movie that the plot seemed to get lost. 

If you are not a fan and have no idea who some of these characters are, it is very likely you will get confused. I’ve even seen some episodes of “The Sopranos,” and I was slightly confused as to who was who. Dickie, the antihero protagonist, goes through a complex character arc that is engaging to watch. 

Fans are sure to be happy and content with the film, but as a movie-goer with little knowledge about the series, it disappoints in some areas, while still managing to stay somewhat enthralling based on the characters. The film captures the essence of the show but fails to deliver the gripping storytelling for which it is known.

“The Many Saints of Newark” is available to stream on HBO Max, and is playing at local theaters.


  • Jordan Jones was hired as the Culture reporter for the Mesa Legend in January of 2020. She is in her second semester at MCC, and she plans to transfer to ASU and get an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in Film Study and Art History. With her degrees and passion for cinema, Jordan intends to become a film archivist.