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Parents' Guide to

Fear City: New York vs. the Mafia

By Matt Cabral, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Keen look into 1980s FBI mafia takedown has foul language.

Fear City: New York vs. the Mafia Poster Image

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Is It Any Good?

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While its sensationalized title might suggest a broad, gritty look at New York's mafia problem in the '70s and '80s, this true crime documentary actually offers a granular, tamer peek into the methods used to bring down the city's most influential criminal organizations. Particularly, the three-part series heavily focuses on the FBI's use of audio surveillance to implicate the bosses of the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese families.The agents responsible for planting the bugs, dubbed "Black Bag Men," recount their stories with absorbing detail, while reenactments ratchet the tension of their tales.

Interviews with other FBI operatives, as well as with federal prosecutors, also offer an engaging look at how the RICO Act was used to essentially bring down the mob as a corrupt corporation rather than a violent criminal organization. Conversations with a pair of former mobsters add some gangland flavor -- as do audio clips of the bugged exchanges and video surveillance of meetings -- but this story's more about the good guys than the wise guys. The occasional, graphic crime scene photo of a bullet-riddled murder victim is as violent and lurid as the series ever gets. If you're expecting another romanticized take on the mafia, you may want to rewatch your favorite Scorsese flick. If you're a true crime fan craving an insightful look at how these tough guys were outsmarted by surveillance tech, however, Fear City: New York vs. the Mafia offers a compelling binge you can't refuse.

TV Details

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