Blu-ray Review: Gotti

STUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Kevin Connelly | CAST: John Travolta, Spencer Lofranco, Stacy Keach, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Leo Rossi, Kelly Preston
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 25, 2018 | PRICE: DVD $12.39, Blu-ray $14.96
SPECS: R | 110 min. | Fact-based crime drama | 2.40:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio | Video  | Overall

After years of pre-production, months of sitting on a shelf and last-minute distribution wrangling, Gotti finally made it to theaters in June after a low-key Cannes premiere—and quickly scored a much-reported 0% on Rotten Tomatoes before taking in a less-than-enthusiastic $4.5 million in theaters.

The good news is that Gotti is not as awful as its reviews or box office returns would indicate.

Huffing and puffing his way as the title character, John Travolta (In a Valley of Violence) gives it his all beneath tons of major makeup as New York “Teflon Don” crime lord John Gotti. We meet him when his son John Jr. (Spencer Lofranco, Unbroken) visits him in prison where Gotti’s serving multiple sentences and John Jr. tells him he’s about to take a plea bargain and testify in court about criminal activity. Gotti Sr.  then begins to reminisce about his past in the mob and how he ascended to power in the Gambino family, while receiving multiple acquittals in trials and maintaining respect from those around him.

Directed by Kevin Connolly, best know as “E” on HBO’s Entourage, Gotti is a structural mess, moving in and out of different time periods without the greatest of ease, showcasing the highlights (or lowlights) of Gotti’s career along the way.

Kudos to Travolta and the rest of the cast—which includes Stacy Keach (Gold), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Beautiful Creatures) and co-producer/co-writer Leo Rossi (Sinatra Club)– for trying to keep it together. Unfortunately, nearly every time Gotti gets some rhythm going, director Connolly tends to stop to pay tribute to other, better criminal enterprises like The Godfather, GoodFellas or The Sopranos. It also doesn’t help that the soundtrack presents a grating mix of newer Pitbull songs (!?) and poorly chosen oldies.

Still, those who are Travolta fans will likely give Gotti a chance. There’s an interesting story here, even though it’s been told before in a less favorable light–this film was based on John Jr.’s book–in a 1996 cable film starring Armand Assante as the powerful hood.

In this case, however, the movie’s theatrical run–as shaky as it was–heightened the title’s exposure, making Gotti an offer many crime story fans won’t refuse.

Buy or Rent Gotti

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.