“Fear City: New York vs. The Mafia” (REVIEW) A Traditional But Still Compelling Docuseries!

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The Italian mafia and all the violent, yet charismatic gangsters that fill its hierarchical structure have translated to countless big-screen films. Some of the most talented names in Hollywood have portrayed crime-bosses from the various decades of the mob’s operations. But those were always fictional retelling’s. “Fear City: New York vs The Mafia” offers up the true story of a crime-ridden city that the mob controlled without opposition for years until their downfall in the mid-80s.


With this docuseries Netflix provides viewers a detailed, inside-look at the endless reach of the mob’s power in the 70s-80s. In three episodes it explores a lawless Manhattan where organized-crime controlled construction, garbage unions, gambling, prostitution, restaurant’s, and so much more to pull in staggering amounts of money. It explores how the FBI had to wrap their head around the scope of what the mafia was pulling off right under their noses. Criminal activity that involved the corruption of local police and other influential figures.


It was fascinating to see this series evolve and to see how the FBI was able to uncover this massive tree of names and ranks. Seeing how agents were able to use wiretaps and old-school surveillance was compelling. This series also includes tons of archival footage in the form of stakeout and crime-scene photos and videos. Something that was effective in pulling you back into the era to grasp the scope of this operation the FBI wanted to pull off. As well as capturing the danger they put themselves in by even trying to do so against a criminal organization with the power the mafia had at the time.

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Fear City: New York vs. The Mafia (2020) Netflix

As the days and months pass and the hours of wiretaps are sifted through, they recreated the hierarchy of the mafia. It was like watching a puzzle being put together, and while the progression of this series was on the side of traditional, that never hindered the intrigue of the information being delivered. The FBI was able to establish that five families controlled the mafia and from their it was decided that a case of unprecedented intricacy would be attempted. Bringing down the heads of the five-families at the same time.


It was a goal not many people thought could be achieved. But this series does a relatively solid job of capturing how it was done. I do think this series could have stretched to six-episodes and still had plenty of material to explore. The timeline of events does seem to jump a bit between the episodes but that is something that will be hit and miss with people. Those wanting more of an intricate and lengthy deep-dive of these events they are familiar with, could result in this feeling a bit surface level. However, those that are unfamiliar and curious, can enjoy this series to get more than enough fascinating information about this era in a condensed time. I personally enjoyed and it would highly recommend checking it out.

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