If you wondered just how closely the “Sopranos” prequel film “The Many Saints of Newark” would tie in to the series, the first trailer for the film shows how a teen named Anthony has “got what it takes” to become Tony Soprano.
This exciting first look at “The Many Saints of Newark” opens with a teacher calling Tony’s mother (Vera Farmiga) into her office and explaining that based on an exam, her son has a high IQ, even though he has a D+ average. “The results tell us, he’s a leader,” the teacher says.
The film then shows how Anthony — as played by the late James Gandolfini’s son Michael Gandolfini, and with quite the resemblance — was slowly molded into the mob boss we all know. As a result, “Many Saints of Newark” centers heavily on Tony’s relationship with his uncle Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), a figure whom fans of the series will recognize as a huge influence on Tony, even though we never saw him in the flesh. The film shows how Dickie will ultimately steer Tony to the underworld, despite his best intentions.
“Just say to yourself, this is the last time I’m ever going to steal something,” Dickie advises Tony in the trailer. “It’s that simple.”
“The Many Saints of Newark” comes from a script by “The Sopranos” creator David Chase, who co-wrote the film with longtime “Sopranos” staff writer Lawrence Konner. Alan Taylor, who directed some of the finest episodes of the series, is back to direct the prequel film. But even if you’re not a fan of the iconic HBO series, “Many Saints” is meant to be a standalone movie and gangster epic that can still be enjoyed if you’re not familiar with the backstory.
It’s set specifically in the ’60s, when the beating of a Black man by police sparked a string of riots that resulted in days of looting, violence and property destruction in which 26 people were killed and many more were injured. The film shows how, with that backdrop, Tony Soprano managed to rise up in the ranks to challenge the all-powerful DiMeo crime family and their hold over the city.
Alongside Gandolfini and Nivola is a cast that includes Farmiga, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, John Magaro, Italian discovery Michela De Rossi and Ray Liotta. (Seeing Liotta briefly cackling in this trailer is a good nod to Liotta’s “Goodfellas” days as well.)
“The Many Saints of Newark” will be released in theaters in the U.S. on Oct. 1 and will be available on HBO Max on the same day for 31 days from the theatrical release. Check out the first trailer here and above. You can also see some new images from the film below.