18 December 2002 | petershelleyau
Charlton Heston goes Italian
Ann Jillian is Sharon Richards, Bloomington, Indiana art teacher and wife of building contractor John (Robert Desiderio) whose son Matty (Zachary Benjamin) is kidnapped. John hasn't told Sharon that he is actually John Mancini, the son of Mafia godfather Louis Mancini (Charlton Heston) and it is believed that the kidnapping is connected to Mancini warfare. The Richards' seek refuge in the Mancini Phoenix estate while they try to discover who has Matty.
Jillian's black roots under her blonde hair are evident, particularly when she runs after the car that takes Matty (the car cruises away slow enough for Sharon to be able to later identify the driver), and in scenes where the wind exposes the back of her head. She is given a seemingly inexhaustable wardrobe at the Mancini's, in spite of her not knowing she would be made to stay on, and is featured being pursued in two car chases. Her best moment is a close-up when she realises the Phoenix police are controlled by the Mancini's, after she runs from the estate for help.
The teleplay by Philip F Messina is a poor man's The Godfather with less scope, presenting the Mancini family as old world and corrupt, with Biblical associations. Louis's younger son, Chris (Lou Liberatore) has been given control of the family business but is not valued, which is why Louis wants John, the prodigal son. The reason for John's initial departure is not made clear, but presumably it is related to the suicide of his mother.
Director Ron Satlof helps Heston show a unexpected degree of emotion - perhaps the hairpiece helps - and his extended begging John not to leave shows him as surprising vulnerable considering his stoic persona. The loud ticking of a clock on the soundtrack as John tells Sharon of his family makes us forgive the slow motion in gunfire scenes, but otherwise this is a frustrating title, since Satlof's tone suggests something we wait for which never eventuates.