LA SCORTA, a taut political thriller pulled from the headlines in modern-day Sicily, hits the ground running and never backs off until an ending that is disappointingly diffuse.
The story follows the police bodyguard escort--la scorta--assigned to maverick investigating Judge Michele de Francesco (Carlo Cecchi), who is charged with ferreting out the institutional corruption that pervades Sicilian government and industry. (The last such crusader, Judge Rizzo, was blown
up, along with his police detail, by the Mafia.) Recently separated from his family and careless of his own safety, de Francesco seems to be courting martyrdom.
The police squad is dominated by Sgt. Andrea Corsale (Enrico Lo Verso), a family man and their nominal leader, and Angelo Mandolesi (Claudio Amendola), a hothead who has returned from Rome to avenge the death of his best friend, killed in the first bomb blast. Inevitable tensions and rivalry are
exacerbated by an Alfa that barely runs, the sharing of only two bulletproof vests among four men, and a government that can't be trusted to protect them. De Francesco wastes no time in making enemies, targeting businessmen who have monopolized the water supply with the connivance of the Mafia.
When he seizes the local wells, corrupt journalists vilify him as the engineer of a manufactured drought, and he's dressed down by a local prosecutor (Benedetto Raneli) who may be a Mafia asset. Papers disappear from de Francesco's desk, and soon he can trust no one but his loyal escort. Then a
wiretap reveals that the powerful Senator Bonura (Giacinto Ferro), who has been his only defender in the popular press, is actually in the employ of the Mafia kingpin.
When a car bomb kills one of the four policemen, Raffaele (Tony Sperandeo), and nearly kills de Francesco's cherished daughter (Claudia Bonivento), the stakes are significantly raised. Prepared to go it alone, the judge asks his bodyguards to resign, but they refuse. The men move into a
bunker-like apartment and prepare for an assault that never comes. Further probing eventually turns up one of the gunmen who killed Rizzo, as well as information implicating Bonura and other government officials in the assassination. Warrants are issued for all the principals, but Bonura is killed
by gunmen within the hour. De Francesco, now a pariah, is reassigned and his escort is disbanded.
Directed by Ricky Tognazzi (son of famed Italian actor Ugo Tognazzi), LA SCORTA is well-paced and engaging throughout. The director wisely focuses on the policemen and their heroic isolation in the face of almost universal opposition; the Mafia is a faceless, ubiquitous threat. An almost
palpable sense of menace is expertly sustained throughout, although the ending, which fails to provide the expected purgative shoot-out, is deflating--probably deliberately so. In Costa-Gavras' Z, to which this film is in many ways similar, the quest for justice ends in a fascist coup; LA SCORTA's
downbeat conclusion suggests that reaction and corruption are now so deeply rooted in Italian institutions that right-wing crackdowns are redundant. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: LA SCORTA, a taut political thriller pulled from the headlines in modern-day Sicily, hits the ground running and never backs off until an ending that is disappointingly diffuse. The story follows the police bodyguard escort--la scorta--assigned to maver… (more)