"Convoluted Gangster Movie Promotes Charismatic Mobster"
What You Need To Know:
GOTTI is jam-packed with too much material for a single movie. It plays out like a rough first draft of a screenplay without any dramatic through lines, themes or character arcs. The conflict between Gotti and his son is mildly interesting, as Gotti’s son struggles with joining the family business. However, it doesn’t come together in the overall narrative. GOTTI is full of the violence, blood, and excessive obscenities that come with the territory of modern organized crime movies. Moviegoers will want to avoid GOTTI for its explicit content and lack of an entertaining, redeeming story.
GOTTI tells the story of real-life godfather John Gotti and his rise to infamy from the 1970s to 1990s. From his first mob hit, to family tragedies, to life in prison, and a coup to take down the current boss, GOTTI is a biopic jam-packed with way too much material for a single movie. Based on a book by Gotti’s son, the events chronicling Gotti’s life don’t come together to create an actual story, leaving the movie a convoluted mess of historical events. The movie is also full of the violence, blood, and excessive obscenities that come with the territory of modern organized crime movies. Both adults and children should avoid GOTTI for its explicit content and its lack of an entertaining or redeeming story.
Starting with his first brutal mob assassination in the early 70s and chronicling his rise to leading the mafia, GOTTI plays out like a highlight reel or a mixtape of his most infamous moments without ever fully explaining what Gotti did or how he affected his community. Most scenes are strung together in chronological order instead of crafting the movie into a cohesive narrative structure. The first half deals mainly with Gotti’s time spent in prison, dealing with a family tragedy and wanting to make something of himself in the mob and the community.
Only in the second half of the movie does an actual narrative play out, as Gotti hatches a plan to assassinate his current boss so he can take over. The most interesting story of the movie is not about John Gotti, but his son, John A. Gotti. The movie weaves two narratives together, one of Gotti rising to stardom, and the other of his son taking over after Gotti goes to prison. The movie’s core question is whether John A. Gotti will plead guilty to the charges against him, so he can serve time and be with his family. While these character decisions are mildly interesting, they involve time jumps in a movie that’s already tough to follow.
Audiences are left with a disjointed collection of scenes that don’t do a good job of explaining what they missed. They somehow assume everyone knows the story, so the movie only tries to dramatize the “best parts.” Those who are unfamiliar with real-life crime boss John Gotti will get lost very quickly in a sea of names and mobster faces. To catch us up on what’s been happening, the movie resorts to lengthy scenes of dialogue and exposition, killing the movie’s pace of the movie and making it boring to watch.
Sadly, GOTTI doesn’t have any redemptive qualities. The lack of a cohesive narrative also includes a lack of character arc, theme or message. The movie also fails to do a good job of making Gotti likable beyond John Travolta’s natural charisma. It’s difficult to root for anyone in the movie, including Gotti, due to his violent profession, which exposes viewers to multiple brutal shootings, violence, blood, and profane language.
At the end of the movie, the filmmakers resort to showing real footage from the 1990s of Gotti’s community saying how much they loved him. Nothing in the story up until that point hinted at the idea that Gotti was beloved in his city. If this was a movie meant to honor him, then it failed miserably. Viewers should be cautioned against going to a movie that tries to honor such a violent and immoral man.