Efficient, nasty action scenes can't overcome mostly bland characterizations and a half-baked story.
"The Violent Four" looks like the first in a wave of Italian gangster movies, hot on the heels of the Italian Westerns, and it's about time. You can't see Italian gangsters in American gangster movies anymore because of the protests of Frank Sinatra's Italian Anti-Defamation League.
Maybe Frank had a point. During the "Untouchables" era, every gangster on TV was Italian, and you'd get the idea that the Mafia was run by Italians, which is surely a cruel and gross untruth.
But suddenly all the gangsters were named Clyde Barrow and C. W. Moss, and there wasn't an Al Capone to be found. It's a bitter pill to swallow, but Italian gangsters, who made American gangster movies what they are today, were shut out in the cold.
But no longer. "The Violent Four" was made in Italy by Italians, and never in your life have you seen so many cops and robbers hanging out the windows of speeding automobiles and machine-gunning each other.
"We'll make Milan another Chicago!" the gang leader vows in the second reel. "Ugh! I got hit," cries the Kid (every gangster movie has a Kid). "What's a little blood, Kid?" snarls the mastermind, who has a regulation two-day growth of beard. "Somebody had to get, it, sooner or later."
The violent four is allegedly a gang of bank robbers, although they seem to spend more time in getaways than anything else except eating and sleeping. "Who were Bonnie and Clyde compared to us?" one boasts, and indeed he has a point.
When the machineguns aren't blazing, there is a moralistic spoken narration about law and order, which strikes a timely contemporary note.