Combustible Celluloid
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With: John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Stacy Keach, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Spencer Lofranco, William DeMeo, Leo Rossi, Victor Gojcaj, Tyler Jon Olson, Megan Leonard, Ashley Drew Fisher, Lydia Hull, Chris Kerson, Chris Mulkey, Sal Rendino
Written by: Lem Dobbs, Leo Rossi
Directed by: Kevin Connolly
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and pervasive language
Running Time: 104
Date: 06/15/2018

Gotti (2018)

1 Star (out of 4)

'Gotti' It Bad

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

John Travolta clearly put in great effort to play the part of Gotti, but he's stuck in an incomprehensible, atrocious mess of a movie, shot like a misunderstood copy of a Martin Scorsese gangster epic.

In Gotti, notorious mob boss John Gotti (John Travolta) is serving one of several life terms in prison. He gets a visit from his son (Spencer Lofranco), who is now going to trial and is looking at taking a plea bargain. Gotti flashes back to his life story, committing murders for the Gambino crime family in New York and advancing through the ranks.

When he secretly kills the mob boss, he is elected to be new head of the family. But the FBI is constantly after him, and after years of trying, they manage to make certain accusations stick. Nonetheless, Gotti is considered a hero around town, and no matter what the law does to him, he is still a legend.

Many characters in Gotti are briefly introduced via titles on the screen, and the movie clumsily blunders ahead as if the viewer has retained everything; there are no visual cues to keep track of anything. Francis Coppola's Godfather movies brilliantly juggle many characters, and they are easily identifiable. Almost every scene in Gotti consists of actors sitting in dimly-lit rooms and discussing other characters by first names that have little or no meaning.

Occasionally there are scenes of violence, shot and edited exactly as we've seen them before, in better films, and accompanied, arbitrarily, along with "ironic" pieces of pop music from the period (or pieces of Christmas music if the scene happens to be set around the holidays). This is the kind of thing Scorsese excels at, and Gotti only demonstrates why other filmmakers are not.

It's basically a collection of highlights with nothing to fill in the blanks and make any of it mean anything. It's close to being a disaster; if the real man knew that this was part of his legacy, people would certainly be rubbed out.

The Blu-ray release from Vertical Entertainment feels like someone gave up. It includes an optional digital copy, 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo mixes, optional English subtitles, and nothing else. The video transfer is fine, and the audio is more than adequate.

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