- Directed by Kevin Connolly
- May 15, 2018 (Cannes) / June 15, 2018 (United States)
This film chronicles the rise and fall of legendary New York mobster John Gotti.
The film Gotti has a bit of a reputation, so I was intrigued enough in part by that to see this movie. Aside from the polarizing reputation, I was curious because of the subject matter and because John Travolta is a good actor. Unfortunately Travolta currently is at a lower end of his career and does not get to work with the A-list talents that help showcase his own A-list talent.
Gotti is not a linear narrative but rather the story jumps between past and present. We get to see an older Gotti as well as a younger Gotti. We also get to see Gotti dying in prison. For telling the story I think this film would have worked a little better being a more linear structure. It would have allowed for a better story flow given the material they presented on the screen. Sometimes you can hop around in a film but that is not always the best choice.
Another issue is that they attempt to cover a great deal of ground in their story. They start with Gotti’s early days and move all the way up to his time in prison. And I must say that it is all interesting stuff but how they tell it feels rushed. They try to cram a lot in their runtime and given what they tried to fit in I think the film should have been either longer or split into two movies. If neither were an option the cut stuff out and expand remaining scenes.
The makeup for Gotti was generally great. It was especially amazing at the points where Gotti was in prison for his final days. Travolta looked like death warmed over. The only instance that bothered me was Travolta as the younger Gotti. There he looked to be in a lot of very heavy makeup to the point of seeming to wear a mask.
Even though Travolta gave a good vocal performance he spent the whole time with mostly one expression on his face. He did his best tough guy look throughout but the expression made him look rather constipated. He has played evil before and has played it well but this was just a fumble.
Also in the cast is Kelly Preston as John’s wife Victoria. Pruitt Taylor Vince is very good as Gotti’s best friend Angelo Ruggiero. William DeMeo, known for his work in the Sopranos, is Sammy Gravano. The legendary Stacy Keach is Gotti mentor Neil Dellacroce. Keach was especially engaging but then again he usually is. I would like to see him play Dellacroce all by himself in a movie.
The film intersperses actual news footage of Gotti in with their narrative. Director Kevin Connolly does their best to involve you in the realism. Unfortunately the oddities and compressed narrative of the film conspire against those efforts. What could have been rather good is turned into something odd and uneven.
This film has aspirations of being The Godfather, but it does not quite reach that lofty goal. It is an entertaining movie with occasionally clunky dialogue. As I said though it still manages to entertain despite its flaws. I’m not talking about watching a train wreck entertained but rather be an interesting story entertained.
I especially liked the use of popular songs. “Come Undone” by Duran Duran, “The House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals, “West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys, and “Heart of Glass” by Blondie to just name a few that appear. They fit the scene and did not feel randomly chosen as has been a modern trend. Even if the use was ironic here they still worked.
In the end Gotti is a better than it should be film with some of its bad reputation undeserved. I am not calling this a great movie, but I think you will enjoy yourself. Given issues with it I will give this an if you want.