We would not—Gandolfini’s 2013 death from a heart attack rendered any sequel impossible. But series creator David Chase has brought us the next best thing: The Many Saints of Newark, a beautifully cinematic prequel that lays out the origin story of Tony (played with fire and sensitivity by Gandolfini’s son, Michael) and introduces the mentor who shaped him. With younger versions of familiar characters (see sidebar, opposite page) and several ambitiously woven backstories (involving Greek tragedy–style family drama, jealousies and murder as well as the Newark race riots of the late 1960s), it’s safe to say this most familiar family is back with a vengeance.
Still, anyone thinking that Many Saints is a continuation of The Sopranos should, in a word, fuhgeddaboudit. The film’s real star is Dickie Moltisanti (played with tons of charisma and a closetful of sharkskin suits by Alessandro Nivola), who we find out early on is the father that Sopranos prime mover Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) never knew. (The name Moltisanti is Italian for “many saints.”) Dickie takes Tony under his wing, trying to school the sometimes truant youngster to stay out of trouble. But Tony’s overriding impression is that Dickie—who runs a nightclub and various criminal rackets—lives the alluring mob lifestyle, complete with ready cash and earned respect.
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