Violent scenes from the life of a West Coast wiseguy who’s spent his whole life yearning for the simple things.
Frank Machianno sells bait and tackle, supplies fish and linens to the restaurant trade and serves as the silent partner in a property-management firm. But although his jobs pay his ex-wife’s alimony and keep his high-maintenance girlfriend in comfort, they’re not enough to send his daughter Jill to medical school. So he reluctantly accepts $50,000 to provide negotiating authority and backup for the injured parties in a disagreement over the financing of porn videos. When the meeting turns into a setup, Frank’s left running from his old pals, wondering who he can trust and who wants him dead. Frank recalls how he worked as a gofer for a mob boss whose wife got caught in a territorial dispute that started with sex and ended with gunfire; how he hooked up with legendary button man Frank Baptista and San Diego capo Mike Rizzo; how he shot his first man and all the others who followed; how his friends warred over control of the sex trade; how he met both President Nixon and a fresh-faced young hooker in the days before they came to grief; how he helped his buddy, FBI agent Dave Hansen, extract a confession from a pedophile kidnapper; and how his marriage came apart as the local crime family unraveled under the pressure of an undercover sting operation. Eventually, one of this series of vigorous, disjointed vignettes, clearly inspired by mob movies from The Godfather to Casino, tells Frank who’s on his case.
A sprawling, anecdotal saga in which the whole, as usual with Winslow (The Power of the Dog, 2005, etc.), is less than the sum of its parts.