I love mob movies. If "Casino" or "Goodfellas" are on cable, I'm immediately sucked in, no matter how many times I've seen them.
GOTTI wants to be one of those films.
To even compare it to a mob classic would be a crime. GOTTI is a mess.
You can't blame John Travolta, who gives his all in a big Pacino-like performance that spans decades. He manages to convey the semi-human side of the neighborhood crime boss that lives by an unbreakable code of honor (that includes countless murders).
But the film around Travolta is a lumbering, confusing tale. Cursed by so many clumsily executed flashbacks and time jumps that you can never quite track the story-telling, you're forced to react to individual scenes versus any kind of impactful story line.
Maybe first-time Director Kevin Connolly (Eric on "Entourage") watched "Godfather II" multiple times and decided he could jump back and forth in time to tell an epic story too.
Connolly is no Coppola, and this is no Godfather.
Disjointed, confusing and nearly incomprehensible at times, GOTTI feels more like a campaign to convince you that John Gotti was a great guy who took care of his family and neighborhood. By the time actual interviews are shown with people singing the praises of Gotti, it gets very uncomfortable.
One consistent thread is a framing device showing John Jr visiting a dying Gotti Sr in prison, teeing up key parts of the story.
Jr is played by Spencer Rocco Lofranco, whose name is the best part of his performance.
There are several good moments. Stacy Keach is very good as Gotti's right hand man. Travolta's wife Kelly Preston is okay as Gotti's wife Victoria, but you've seen this story told before, and always told better.
Travolta deserves a better film around him. Between this and his role as Robert Shapiro in TV's excellent "American Crime Story", He's proven he can adopt different looks and hold the screen as a more mature actor.
Travolta worked for a decade to bring this story to the screen.
Too bad everything around him pales compared to his efforts.
After a disastrous premiere, the film bombed its opening weekend, murdered by word of mouth at the box office faster than any mob hit.
Avoid this stinker and go watch "Goodfellas" again.
GOTTI gets a D.