Gotti is the biopic of swaggering New York Mob Boss, John Gotti. John Travolta stars the infamous ‘Teflon Don’ in this disjointed and messy crime drama which leaves no Mafia cliche untouched. Travolta is the film’s lone shining light, fully committing to the role, but sadly the film isn’t worth his time or energy.
Gotti suffered almost ten years in development, with a revolving door of talent coming and going in a flurry. Nick Cassavetes and Barry Levinson both toyed with the decision of directing before declining only to be replaced by Entourage actor Kevin Connelly. Joe Pesci was in the frame to play Gotti’s right-hand man Angelo Ruggiero, before suing the film’s producers after they apparently pulled a bait and switch with his character and salary. Hell, even walking Hollywood disaster Lindsey Lohan had the good sense to either not commit or get fired from the production.
Even when the film was shot, Gotti couldn’t keep its nose clean. In 2017, just ten days before it was scheduled to be released, Emmett/Furla/Oasis bought the film back from Lionsgate Premiere believing that Gotti had the potential to be a break-out hit (it wasn’t). There was even a ballsy marketing campaign which tackled the film’s bad reviews head-on, talking about critics put ‘a hit out on Gotti’.
Covering about 40 years and multiple time-frames. Gotti is a blur of wise-guys and hits, with no scene lasting longer than 90 seconds. The majority of characters are in and out in a flash, with few failing to make an impact because they’re all so interchangeable. Only Stacy Keach and Kelly Preston register and that’s simply because…well, they’re Stacy Keach and Kelly Preston.
Gotti has a mind-boggling 57 producers listed, so is it any wonder that the film is a mess? Probably not, but you would at least think one of then would have thought about ageing-up Spencer Lofranco’s John Gotti Jr. Throughout the course of the movie John Travolta goes through a plethora of wigs and styles, but Lofranco doesn’t change a peep as he goes from teenager to middle-aged family man. It’s almost comical in its ineptitude.
There’s a lot that’s wrong with Gotti, but you have to give John Travolta credit for carrying the film on his shoulders. It’s a crippling feat for the star who needs another call from Quentin Tarantino to give him a third-act comeback.
Lem Dobbs and Leo Rossi’s script might have been an insightful look into the life of the Gotti family, but if that story ever existed, then it’s been left on the hard-drive of an editing bay somewhere. What we’re presented with is a confused mess of a film which is almost impossible to follow – and that’s a crime nobody is going to fuhgeddaboud.
Gotti comes with a superficial 11 minute making-of. It’s memorable because everyone involved believes they’re making something good.