The Cosa Nostra, the mob, or whatever you want to call them. They have committed some horrific crimes in their decade’s long history, yet like Dracula, their exploits and figures have made some of the most compelling drama in pop-culture history. In 2018, the saga of one of the most notorious criminal underworld figures was brought to life, by noted actor John Travolta, that figure was Gotti.
Gotti begins with the deceased head of the Gambino family, namely John Gotti, reflecting on his life overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge, and then goes in media res to the federal prison in the late 90s, where he’s trying to persuade his son and heir not to turn over information to the Feds for immunity. What follows is a flashback to the rise of the Gotti name in the crime community as he moves to become head of the commission and his downfall in the late 1990s.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the film is its style, which manages to blend together with the film itself. Pitbull himself collaborates with the film’s composers to create an enjoyable title song that feels right out of the G.T.A. depiction of Liberty City. The camerawork is lively and interesting, that makes you feel like you’re in the room as the action happens. It’s an enjoyable and immersive experience and offers a stimulating counterpart to the drama.
Gotti isn’t just style over substance, it’s a well-acted and well-plotted film as well. Gotti’s son Gotti Jr. is played convincingly by Spencer Lofranco and his arc of rising in the family and then seeking redemption is interesting. John Gotti himself is played with believability by Travolta, during the characters most intriguing periods and serves to make a story that might be hard to follow, for those unfamiliar with the alleged structure of one of the largest criminal enterprises, engaging. There’s personal tragedy in the death of Gotti’s youngest son and the impact that has on both Gotti and his wife, Victoria, played by Kelly Preston.
As Scorsese has proven for most of his career, there’s something compelling about the mob, Gotti proves that other film-makers can have a crack at them as well. Gotti is a fascinating look at one of the most notorious gangsters in the 20th century, during one of the entire Commission’s most interesting periods, this is reflected here as the film fills its hours with Machiavellian power plays and noticeable changes in society as this multi-decaded tale unfolds. Gotti is a tale of a bygone era, that despite feeling different to today, will make you do anything but forgettaboutit.
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