Plenty of gangster movies get away with showing horrible behavior because it’s clear they’re morality tales; here’s a case where the “depiction = endorsement” charge could stick. John Travolta plays John Gotti, tracking 20 years of his career in organized crime through his involvement in the assassination of boss Paul Castellano and his subsequent prosecution. In theory, the focal point is Gotti’s relationship with his son, John Jr. (Spencer Lofranco), including flashing back and forth to a meeting in 1999 where John Jr. informs his imprisoned dad about considering a plea bargain. But that angle is ultimately a superficial framework on which to hang a tired collection of mob movie clichés and dopey dialogue—an underboss played by Stacey Keach talks about the “five boroughs” to Gotti, then feels the need to name them—set by director Kevin Connolly to needle-drops like playing Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” at a point when everything is coming undone. Worst of all, it serves to glorify Gotti’s commitment to the purity of his Cosa Nostra ethos. He may have been a murderer, but by God, he was a man.
Director: Kevin Connolly
Producer: Randall Emmett, George Furla, Marc Fiore and Michael Froch
Cast: John Travolta, Spencer Lofranco, Pruitt Vince, Stacy Keach, Chris Mulkey, William DeMeo, Kelly Preston and Lydia Hull