First Time Watch: Avenging Angelo (2002)

Plot: When elderly Mafia boss Angelo (Anthony Quinn) gets killed in a restaurant, his loyal bodyguard, Frankie (Sylvester Stallone), decides he must protect Angelo’s daughter — high-strung socialite Jennifer (Madeleine Stowe) — who may also be in danger. Jennifer, however, doesn’t even realize that Angelo is her father, as he gave her up for adoption years ago. After Frankie tells her the truth, she sets out to avenge Angelo’s death with a very shaky understanding of Mafia protocol.

I tried watching Avenging Angelo once a few years ago but couldn’t make it past the first 20 minutes; I found everything about it just annoying especially Madeline Stowe’s character Jennifer who is the type of screaming, wailing banshee I despise in movies.

My buddy Lee said he sat down to watch it last week so I thought I would give it another try. Although for the first half of the film I still wanted the mob to kill Jennifer I did find myself warming to the picture in the second half. It is one of my least favourite Sylvester Stallone movies but there were a few things I enjoyed.

This was Anthony Quinn’s final film and there was a nice tribute to him at the end; although it wasn’t a big part he elevated it as only he could. Stallone is also very likeable and makes for a relatable protagonist who made a promise to protect Jennifer and ends up falling in love with her (for some reason). Jennifer may be insufferable for the first part, but she does at least soften up as the story goes along and Madeline Stowe has always been stunning.

Romantic action isn’t a genre we really see any more and it generally tended not to work so I’m not in a rush for it to make a comeback any time soon.

There aren’t any big action scenes in Avenging Angelo but there are a few shoot-outs, a final punch up and a surprisingly satisfying bad guy death at the end. It was also mostly shot right here in Toronto which is a point in its favour.

The script isn’t particularly funny although I’ll admit the farting corpse did make me chuckle; what can I say? I’ll always be 12 years old!

A young Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly) plays one of the main antagonists called Bruno and he makes for an effective villain which is the total opposite of Mike Biggs.

Overall, a lot of Avenging Angelo is mostly painful to get through especially the first half but I did find myself warming to it slightly by the end; it’s still not a good film by any stretch of the imagination but at least I’ve watched it all the way through now and we can never speak of it again.