Demetrio Perez (Luca Zingaretti) is a public defender. He is the lawyer of last resort, the only hope of desperate criminals. And operating in Naples, with its long history as a Mafia-controlled hell hole, he faces no shortage of customers. Perez is seen-it-all-before, heard-it-all-before cynical, and what little hope in life he's got rests with his twenty-year-old daughter, Thea (Simona Tabasco). Problem is, she's engaged to Francesco Corvino (Marco D'Amore) who is the son of a mobster.
But that's not Perez's only problem. His new client is another gangster, Luca Buglione (Massimiliano Gallo), and Buglione's gone all turncoat, naming names as state's witness. In the process, Buglione offers to help Perez with the problem of his daughter's boyfriend by naming Corvino as the perpetrator of a violent atrocity. And so Perez must decide if he should turn his back on the law and seek help from a mobster in order to protect his daughter from Corvino and his shadowy world.
Perez was directed by Edoardo De Angelis and depicts a grim and spartan Naples. The colours are faded and most of the action takes place downtown in a sterile landscape of anonymous tower blocks. Amidst this background, the plot rattles along, but there aren't a great deal of thrills – the film seems to settle for moody without much below the surface. There are some darkly comic moments, such as when Perez enlists his fellow counselor and friend, Ignazio Merolla (Giampaolo Fabrizio) to help recover diamonds belonging to Buglione that are hidden inside the stomach of a live bull.
But when the dashes of comedy are over, Perez misfires when it returns to advancing the storyline. Counselor Perez gets stuck in tough-guy loner mode, with requisite dramatic outbursts and plenty of slugs from the whisky bottle. And the rest of the cast is burdened with characters too flimsy to be interesting. Perez assembles all the bits of an interesting and stylish thriller, but the ride isn't as fun as it should be.