The tackiest courtroom drama in recent memory, POWER OF ATTORNEY is so carelessly directed, vestigially scripted, and somnabulistically acted that you can only take offense at the lack of care evident in every frame. This rip-off of THE FIRM barely offers the minimum requirements of its
Despite escaping the mean-streets lifestyle that claims his drug-dealing brother Frankie (Roger Wilson), attorney Paulie Diehl (Elias Koteas) considers a career change, shifting from prosecution to defense when he fails to convict a hit man. Falling prey to the blandishments of the Gotti-like mob
boss Scassi (Danny Aiello), Paulie ignores the advice of his fiancee Maria (Nina Siemaszko) and convinces himself that shady Scassi is a reformed man filled with remorse for all the deaths he has ordered. On trial for rubbing out a mobster named Vinnie, Scassi gains Paulie's trust until crime
witness Frankie proves a fly in the ointment of Paulie's defense strategy. Paulie realizes that Scassi's protestation of innocence is as empty as his promise not to hurt Frankie, but he's forced to keep his commitment to Scassi even after he obtains videotaped proof that the Capo iced Frankie.
Playing the game in true Godfather fashion, retainer Paulie bides his time to confront the acquitted Scassi with the video but gets taken for a ride to the gangster's favorite garbage dump/body-disposal site. After Scassi's henchman get nailed by the cops, nonvigilante Paulie saves his guilty
former patron for the proper legal channels and resumes his career on the right side of the law.
This incredibly juiceless thriller parades familiar cliches about the Mob and loopholes in the judicial system to little avail. Since the slack screenplay doesn't freshly configure its moral bleakness, none of the Machiavellian intricacies of Scassi's pocketing of the former assistant DA is
developed with any suspense. Sans directorial flash or distracting star turns, POWER OF ATTORNEY further weakens its case with bogus ethnicity. At times, its half-baked depiction of earthy, temperamental Italianess ranks with the ersatz Jewish cavorting during the Hebrew wedding ceremony in
THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE. At least that unkosher film had the excuse of being a musical; this realistic dago-bashing doesn't amount to either a competent evidentiary thriller or an absorbing courtroom drama, and it's hard to root for a dopey hero whose refusal to see the obvious is like a
hairshirt of stupidity. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: The tackiest courtroom drama in recent memory, POWER OF ATTORNEY is so carelessly directed, vestigially scripted, and somnabulistically acted that you can only take offense at the lack of care evident in every frame. This rip-off of THE FIRM barely offers… (more)