Danger: Diabolik! may be my favorite movie of all time, so I was nervous when Diabolik came out in 2021. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t a disappointment. The strange all on a soundstage feel of the movie was quite exciting. Yet I feel that the sequel abandons that to feel more like it fits into our world. Well, it does also have time for Bond-like video segments like the incredible opening number that turns into the credits and the first action scene without ever slowing down.
Directed yet again by Antonio and Marco Manetti, this replaces Luca Marinelli as the antihero Diabolik with Giacomo Gianniotti while smartly keeping Miriam Leone as Diabolik’s lover Eva Kant and Valerio Mastandrea as his nemesis Ginko.
After that aforementioned dance/singing/music video/Bondian intro, Diabolik steals the Crown of Armen and the Armen Jewels in short order. Yet he doesn’t realize that it’s all part of Ginko’s plan, as the jewels have been coated with a radioactive tracking substance that permits Ginko and the police to infiltrate one of Diabolik’s secret bases.
As Diabolik and Eva escape, she hurts her ankle and the master criminal abandons her to sneak away. The police now have all of Diabolik’s wealth, the way that he makes masks and his girl, who Ginko is trying to convert to his side so that he can finally stop Diabolik.
Now, before you come into this cold, you have to realize that Diabolik is kind of a James Bond level character in Italy. Created by sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani, he’s a master thief and cold blooded criminal who often steals either for the thrill or because he wants to outdo another criminal. Just as often, he’s doing something to upset Ginko, who can never seem to hold him for long.
Based on the sixteenth Diabolik story Ginko All’Attacio, this is a strange movie to introduce an audience unfamiliar with the comics to. It’s more about Ginko and his quest than it is Diabolik, who remains in disguise for most of the film. Also, because of how they’re kept apart, this has less of the draw of Diabolik and Eva, which at heart is always the reason why I love the series and characters.
This film also introduces Duchess Altea, Inspector Ginko’s secret companion, who is played by Monica Bellucci. She’s always a welcome sight and having her gives Ginko a near equal partner to Diabolik and Kant.
There’s already a third movie and I’ll definitely watch it, mostly because I want to see if it also makes a shift in look and feel as this one did. This is shot well, has a pretty exciting soundtrack and sure, it may not be as perfect as Mario Bava, but what movie released in this time has his genius? It’s unfair to expect anything to live up to that.
The other thing some may miss is that in the comics, Diabolik went from being a killing machine who didn’t care about human life to one with his own code of honor. This didn’t happen from story one to story two, but over a few years. There is an abrupt change in here where our lead doesn’t kill a police officer that make it feel like he made that leap perhaps too quickly.
Again, maybe I’m still too jazzed over Bava when it comes to this movie or perhaps its that all modern movies seem to be TV movies shot with a little better color balancing and budget, but while this looks like it used its budget, it also struggles to find intriguing camera angles or even attempt to bring a comic to film life. I’m being unfair, but I want a Diabolik movie to knock my eyes out of my head. Not to say this isn’t pretty in parts, but broken record, there’s so much I want for this movie.
That said — if you’re a fan of the whole Diabolik series, it’s nice that the world of superheroes on film is a little less America-centric and that we can get three new movies in as many years.
The end of the story, well, you’ll see coming, but here’s to where this can go next.