Asset Locker


UK Release Date Friday, 20 January 2017
Certificate 18
Director Martin Scorsese
Cast Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci
Distributor BFI Distribution


East Brooklyn 1955. Dreaming of becoming a gangster, schoolboy Henry Hill gets a job parking Cadillacs for the arrogant, free-spending local mobsters he so admires because they seem a law unto themselves. Graduating from running messages to wrecking cars as ‘protection’ enforcement, he earns respect by refusing to testify when arrested on a cigarette-smuggling charge, and is virtually adopted by the local godfather, Paulie Cicero (who comes from the same part of Sicily as Henry’s mother). By the time Henry grows up, he is a master of money-spinning scams, and in 1963 joins Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito on a big robbery at Idlewild airport. Jimmy, Irish like Henry’s father, is a hit man who gets his kicks from hijacking (unlike Tommy, who enjoys killing), and becomes Henry’s friend and mentor. Henry meets and marries Karen, a middle-class Jewish girl. She slowly comes to realise – and to accept – what Henry is, and they have two children. Around 1970, Henry leaves Karen after a blazing row when she jealously confronts his mistress Janice, but the marriage is patched up at Paulie’s insistence that appearances be maintained. Soon after, Henry and Jimmy are sentenced to ten years for beating up a payment defaulter. Worried about his family with no money coming in (the ‘system’ means that no one helps out in such circumstances), Henry takes to dealing drugs from inside. Paroled after four years, Henry promises Paulie to drop his drug dealings (too heavy sentences are involved), but instead expands his interests, working with Jimmy and Tommy. In 1980, the trio pull off a $6 million airport hijack, which starts going sour when clues start leaking and the FBI start sniffing. Jimmy and Tommy, both increasingly unhinged, begin eliminating the weaker links in the hijack team. Meanwhile, the casual murder by Tommy in 1970 of Billy Batts, a ‘made’ man (i.e. off-limits except by permission of the organisation), resurfaces. As Tommy is now known to be the killer, Paulie has no choice but to set him up for execution. With the police closing in on his drug activities, Henry tries to square things with Paulie, only to realise that he too is in line for execution, probably by Jimmy. Turning state’s evidence under the Witness Protection Program, Henry retreats – regretfully – into anonymity with his wife and children.

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