‘Fear City: New York vs The Mafia‘ is a three-part true crime documentary series on Netflix. It is directed by Sam Hobkinson and discusses law enforcement’s attempts to break the Mafia’s control of New York City.
In 1970s-80s New York, the Big Apple is known as Fear City with the Gambino, Colombo, Bonanno, Lucchese, and Genovese crime families controlling everything from construction to the food industry to gambling. At first, the five families battle each other for power, but when law enforcement starts to move in, they form the “commission,” a tentative alliance. Federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani works with federal, state, and local officials in an attempt to bring the criminals to justice. With that comes some danger as the wise guys start to get wise.
As a consumer of true crime content, I always love a good story about how law enforcement brings down those bullies, thugs, thieves, and serial killers who turned criminal activity into a business. This documentary does a good job of exposing these criminal masterminds who hide behind their soldiers and captains in order to stay anonymous as these bosses tried to turn New York City into their own personal empire and nearly succeeded in accomplishing that goal. I thought the feature did a good job of telling this story from the vantage point of both law enforcement and from the criminal side.
Through interviews of both law enforcement officials and through some of the criminals who were part of these gangs, we get to hear both sides’ perspectives of the state of New York during that era. Each interview provided that insight into the mind of each contender, broadening the picture to include things you would not often see in a true crime documentary series. It goes in-depth and brings it full circle. One thing I did appreciate is that it did not try to empathize with the criminals and instead showed them as the menaces to society they truly were. Keep in mind, this is not a family feature. It has several violent images and strong language while discussing these horrific crimes.
The production values were also very well done. They do a good job with the filming, the interviews, and with the music when it comes down to every single detail. The most compelling interviews were done with former federal prosecutor and NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani. He brought the teams together so they could make a RICO case against the Five Families, allowing law enforcement to gain an edge. His perspective was a welcomed insight and it was refreshing.
Check out the trailer below:
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