Netflix’s Vendetta: Truth, Lies and The Mafia Review: Vindictive Power Struggle

The Vendetta docuseries premiered globally on Netflix on Sept. 24. It was written and produced by Ruggero di Maggio and Davide Gambino for Mon Amour Films and Nicola Moody, David Herman, and Jane Root for Nutopia.

Vendetta Review does not contain spoilers

An intersection with the Italian Mafia: Vendetta Serves the Truth on A Platter, the docuseries follows the struggle of local TV journalist Pino Maniaci, who has spent more than two decades fighting organized crime on his local TV station, against the forces of Mafiosi on the one hand and political powers that protect them on the other.

He faces an uphill fight until he manages to uncover evidence that can send one of Sicily’s most potent Mafiosi behind bars. His struggle also exists with one of Italy’s most powerful judges- Silvana Saguto.

Netflix's Vendetta: Truth, Lies and The Mafia Review: Vindictive Power Struggle

The Vendetta 2021 series traces Maniaci’s life through the years of his investigation, gathering files on mafia dons and their associates before finally confronting them in courtrooms across Sicily. However, as Vendetta: Truth, Lies and The Mafia clarifies, fighting these crimes is a much more significant challenge than it looks like on TV.

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Italy’s Powerful Crime Syndicates Open Doors in the Docuseries-Vendetta

It is told entirely through archive material, including news footage and interviews with journalists, law enforcement officials and mafia members. It’s a very effective way to show how the mafia has infiltrated every aspect of modern life in Sicily today.

The episodes clearly show how mafia families have transformed themselves into respectable society figures for money and power rather than domination. It also shows how mafioso are protected by corrupt politicians who refuse to change laws or investigations or help fight organised crime.

Netflix's Vendetta: Truth, Lies and The Mafia Review: Vindictive Power Struggle

While the series’ most famous figures are the two crusaders-Maniaci and Saguto, it may be its most exciting backdrop. Mafia history was rife with organised crime figures who were notorious for their crimes and their vices. Among them? Politicians. Politicians who were themselves members of organised crime.

The Mafia and their Infamous Vices-Weilding Power through Vendetta

The series successfully portrays how corrupt politicians can wield power over an entire country through organised crime. It does so through many examples showing how corrupt politicians have had many opportunities to use their political power for illegal purposes but instead chose to use it for good.

But at the same time, it also paints a more realistic picture of how local politicians cannot be single-handedly held responsible for all of Italy’s problems. It also acts as a cautionary tale for how just one person can use their position to sway an entire country into doing what they want them to do.

Vendetta: Truth, Lies and The Mafia Docuseries review
Vendetta: Truth, Lies and The Mafia Docuseries review

Vendetta: Truth, Lies and The Mafia documents the long, drawn-out battle Saguto waged against Italy’s most powerful crime syndicates for nearly three decades; she was involved in one of the country’s most extensive mafia trials.

While watching the show, you’re likely to lose track of time as you watch Saguto and Maniaci go back and forth on their claims about one another. The amount of time spent on each side can feel artificially excessive, making it difficult to connect with the characters.

Vendetta Docuseries Unfolds the Verdict on being Caught in the Crossfire

Vendetta’s central conflict is between the two characters. Maniaci was the journalist who exposed organised crime in his country, while Saguto was portrayed as a mafia judge who let it all go, making compromises to appease the mafia.

Saguto is portrayed as someone who has “sold out” her convictions for money and power, making you feel sad for her character and resentful. It’s hard to see her as anything else than a tragic figure because of this. That doesn’t make her any less admirable, though; I think what made me like her character was how she found redemption later in life.

Netflix's Vendetta: Truth, Lies and The Mafia Review: Vindictive Power Struggle

Maniaci is portrayed as an outsider who refuses to compromise his values to make money and do good in the world. It was interesting watching him come around and realize he wasn’t alone in fighting against these things.

Still, at the same time, it felt like he was giving excuses instead of coming around on his beliefs. This made him less sympathetic than Saguto and created a lot more tension between them than there needed to be.

The Series-Vendetta Features a Peek into Italian Corruption and its Massive Impact

In addition to detailing Italy’s Sicilian mafia problem through the lens of a series about modern-day gangsters and government officials, Vendetta is also a small peek into Italian political corruption and how it affects ordinary people living in some of Italy’s most dangerous regions.

It’s a compelling subject matter, but it doesn’t work as a true-crime documentary. Vendetta is more of an investigative journalism series than a true-crime program. It often lacks the critical distance and objectivity required to make high-quality docuseries.

Netflix's Vendetta: Truth, Lies and The Mafia Review: Vindictive Power Struggle

But before all that, however, let’s talk about quality. This is an Italian production shot entirely in Sicily, which means it has a very different look than what we’re used to seeing on Netflix. The series focuses primarily on footage from TV news broadcasts — many of them dating back to the ’80s — and while that creates a certain aesthetic that would be lost in translation into English, it also has its drawbacks: Occasional blips and cuts in the video can make it tough to watch at times.

But all things considered, the series is incredibly well done — particularly if you’re already familiar with these characters. You get to know all their histories and relationships right away, so it’s basically like sitting down for coffee with them. At the same time, they share their experiences with you over dinner at their favourite trattoria.

Stream It or Skip It?

Netflix's Vendetta: Truth, Lies and The Mafia Review: Vindictive Power Struggle

The series – which is a Netflix Original – casts a light on the mafia’s secret, violent and complex world, its infiltration of Italy’s highest echelons, and its influence over Italian society. It also exposes the close relationship between political power and organized crime and how politicians have been corrupted by mafia money.

But don’t expect this docuseries to give you any answers about who committed the crimes depicted here because there are no answers here at all. Vendetta explores human beings’ capacity for evil through two unlikely heroes determined to expose those who have hurt them most.

Vendetta: Truth, Lies and the Mafia is streaming on Netflix.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Overall

SUMMARY

Vendetta: Truth, Lies and the Mafia is engaging and a very fun watch, but does not provide many answers.

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Vendetta: Truth, Lies and the Mafia is engaging and a very fun watch, but does not provide many answers.Netflix's Vendetta: Truth, Lies and The Mafia Review: Vindictive Power Struggle