Gotti is a 2018 biographical crime drama movie directed by Kevin Connolly. Based on a true story, it centers on the life and dealings of John Gotti; an infamous crime mobster in New York City and his rise to the helm of the Gambino Crime family.
John Travolta as John Gotti Snr. was acceptable at the very least; it’s not a portrayal worth gushing over but it deserves a round of applause. Travolta is an accomplished actor and I did not expect any less of an accomplished performance from him coming into this; his character’s mid-20th century accent was good but then again, that goes for several other actors in this film so it’s not a weighty compliment. What I liked about John Travolta’s character the most is that he had considerable depth; he knew who he was, he knew what his ideals were and he was ready to put down anybody who did not conform to his vision.
The temperamental side to him was prevalent all through and reflected how much serious he was not only in his illegal dealings but also in his family life case in point when he forbids his son from dressing as a cop for an event. He hates the authorities for obvious reasons and thus you’ll tend to understand him in that respect. Even so, there was an upside to him in that he was a man of the people and did a considerable amount of stuff to better the lives of his community members i.e wittingly fends away cops who are trying to disrupt normalcy at a local neighbourhood celebration which he overlooked. Additionally, what he meant to his local community was substantially reflected in what the locals said about him in media interviews and thus I was drawn to seeing the different shades to Gotti as a character.
Gotti Jnr. (Spencer Lofranco) is more less a mirror image of his father and understandably so; he is so close to the crime lord. From a sociological perspective, it was almost inevitable that the habits of Gotti Snr. would rub up on him soon enough and the bar fight he had alongside his comrades during a particular scene in the 2nd Act was just a testament to it. His father’s reaction to the bar fight, to me, was understandable but surprising at the same time. In as much as Gotti Snr. gives his son a piece of his mind with several thorough slaps, I got the concern he felt for his son and the punishment was just him emphasizing on the fact that he did not wish for Lofranco’s character to take up the illicit crime life he was very much a part of.
The Plot, Boons and Banes.
The story of the film, in many ways, was lackluster; there was nothing about it to set it apart from other mobster movies. Nevertheless, I found a couple of themes quite notable that served the plot well. Betrayal is very much prevalent on here; members of the Gambino Crime family don’t mess around with snitches and people who are not for their cause. The consequences of breaking the principles that they hold dear are clearly spelt out when Gotti Jnr.is being inducted into the family and seeing it being exercised in certain points in the film, I think, did justice to the story. The bona-fide scenes, though few, are commendable. The Gotti family face a great tragedy and how much it affected most of them, particularly patriarch himself who even breaks into tears was inviting to watch.
That said, there is no moving around the fact that this film is a straight out copy-cat of mobster films that you might have watched in the past. I agree with most critics who consider this a “What would Martin Scorsese do?” type of film and that is the biggest bane to this it’s existence. It’s straight out inexcusable especially from a directorial standpoint to make a movie with no originality to it; different film makers should have their own identities. Take Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott and James Cameron for example, they are Sci-Fi masters who understand how to blend the latter with a good story and they are known the world over for being able to do that and do it successfully; it’s their forte. I don’t know about you but I only know Kevin Connolly as an actor, a good one at that and that’s why I can’t overemphasize on the fact that he needs to stick to his lane judging by his work on Gotti. Right from minute one, the film doesn’t pass up on letting you know that it is one big exposition and the way it was handled made the story so predictable and that’s yet another thing that made me fall out of favour with it.
Despite the fact that Gotti has some aspects to it that are worth investing in; a factor majorly contributed by the above par performance by John Travolta, there were so many scenes where I felt like I was watching yet another mobster motion-picture and that isn’t what a proper cinematic experience should be like. This movie has seriously underwhelmed in the Box Office, the reasons why being very apparent and I just hope that this won’t be the anchor-like project that will drag Connolly’s directorial future down to the bottom of the ocean never to be heard of again. I genuinely feel for the guy.