Despite a fair amount of bangs and kablooeys, fans of genre shoot’em-ups may not go for La Scorta. This sobering account of a squad of bodyguards—the “escort” of the title—assigned to protect a Mafia prosecutor in Sicily lacks the cartoonish violence of many poliziottesco thrillers. That’s because it’s based on the true story of a magistrate who became isolated and threatened after he sniffed out mob infiltration of a local city government. But the film is also a rare view of Italy’s self-sacrificing bodyguards, here morphing into the judge’s investigative unit as the powers try to quash his political probe.
Despite a constant atmosphere of deadly menace, much tension derives from personal conflicts that flare up in the cramped quarters of protective bunkers and surveillance vans. Misfit Angelo, played by hangdog-faced Claudio Amendola, is the most volatile of the bunch, a volunteer among the family men assigned to the dreaded detail. But it’s his rough sense of justice that wrangles the team into a cohesive fighting machine. That anti-Mafia judges in Sicily today still require armed escorts makes the film both fresh and terrifying.