My notes on Lo Chiamavano Jeeg Robot (They Call Me Jeeg Robot)
Selfish petty crook Enzo Ceccotti (Claudio Santamaria), fleeing from the cops, takes a dive into the Tiber and swims too near some leaking drums of strange chemical. Later, when he survives being shot in the shoulder and falling off a multi-storey car park, he realises that he has gained super-strength, though it’s slightly daffy Alessia (Ilenia Pastorelli) – daughter of a fellow crook killed in the shoot-out – who tags him as a superhero and convinces him to watch the box set of a Japanese cartoon that parallels what’s happened to him. At first, he tries to use his strength as a heist man – hauling an ATM out of a wall (though a dye pack ruins the cash), and staging a one-man armoured car robbery – but Alessia nags him to be a better person and eventually he caves in, feeling especially guilty after an uncomfortable sex scene which makes him realise he’s abused the girl as too many other lowlifes she knows have (including her father). Meanwhile, Lo Zingaro (Luca Marinelli) – a loose cannon gang boss whose unreliability has got him into trouble with a Neapolitan mob bossette (Antonia Truppo) – catches on to what Enzo has, and sets out to get his own super-powers, though he only goes into the river after being set in fire and emerges as a Joker-type scarred super-psycho more bent on a revenge spree than having a nemesis. This is a mix of relatively light hijinx, almost on a level with the Terence Hill-Bud Spencer comedies of the 70s, with manic, ultra-violent crime, including the Italian gangland genre’s usual dwelling on abuse to women. The glum, greying Enzo and the wild-haired, childish Alessia are an odd couple, but quite affecting – though the business about having sex with someone who doesn’t seem to have an adult mentality is perhaps too queasy a subject for something as fantastical and pulpy as this. Santamaria gives the only understated performance, which means the film has some sort of centre – Marinelli and Pastorelli go all out for everything, and their acts wear thin before the long-delayed climax comes along. Scripted by Nicola Guaglianone; directed by Gabriele Mainetti.
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