Netflix UK film review: The Family
Ruby | On 03, Apr 2014
Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones, Dianna Agron, John D’Leo
Watch The Family online in the UK: Netflix UK / TalkTalk TV / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Sky Store / Rakuten TV / Google Play
Robert De Niro as a mobster? Well, there’s a good idea. So good, in fact, that it has been done again and again since time immemorial. Goodfellas, The Godfather II, Once Upon A Time In America, Casino, The Untouchables are just some of the memorable and timeless classics for which De Niro will always be remembered. The Family cannot be added to the list.
Giovanni Manzoni (De Niro), a mafia boss who ratted on members of his own crime syndicate, is in the witness protection programme, complete with a new identity, a wife, Maggie (Pfeiffer), who has a penchant for blowing up supermarkets, a daughter, Belle (Agron), who would be more at home in Kick-Ass than a sleepy french village, and a son, Warren (D’Leo), the intelligent one who gets beaten up at high school.
It is the job of CIA Agent Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones) and a couple of dozy goons, to make sure the family comes to no harm under his protection. Unsurprisingly, they do as much as they can to upset the locals and draw attention to themselves, making his job impossible.
The scenes between Jones and De Niro are by far the only thing worth watching in this film. Sadly, there are far too few of them to enjoy between violent, ‘comedic’ flashbacks and attacks on the general public. Blink and you’ll miss them.
With Luc Besson directing, you expect so much more. Although The Family is beautifully shot, there is very little else to recommend it. The characters are unbelievable, at times ridiculous and often cliched – it wouldn’t be a surprise if the visiting mafia all carried violin cases.
You might hope that by blowing up a small village in Normandy, the Manzoni family would learn a valuable lesson, but they do not. Our only hope is that Mr. De Niro says no to further “Goodfellas meets We’re The Millers” projects in future.
The Family is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.