Boss of Bosses (2001)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Chazz Palminteri in Boss of Bosses (2001)

Middle of the Road Mob Movie

"Boss of Bosses" doesn't really require a synopsis because whilst it starts on the 16th December 1985 when crime boss, Paul Castellano (Chazz Palminteri - Analyze This) and his under-boss Tommy Bilotti (Richard Foronjy) are murdered outside Sparks Steak House it simply takes us through his life from the 1930s to his murder. Along the way various things are covered, from his relationship to his wife Nina (Patricia Mauceri) and his lover Gloria (Angela Alvarado - Lone Rider) through to the FBI trying to get enough information to bring him down. But more significantly it focuses on what happened when he is made the boss of bosses and how certain factions did not like what he was doing whilst living in the lap of luxury, especially John Gotti (Sonny Marinelli) who was vocal in his disapproval of how Paul Castellano ran things.

Meh, I don't tend to use Meh but it is the best word I can find for "Boss of Bosses" as whilst there is nothing seriously terrible about it, as it churns out the usual mob movie cliches whilst portraying Paul Castellano as a good guy, there is nothing special about it with Chazz Palminteri doing a good job of keeping our attention as Castellano. But it is a much of a much-ness, a general look at the life of Paul Castellano, his rise to being Capo di tutti capi and how after becoming the Boss of Bosses he faced conflict from within the family.

Clancy Brown in Boss of Bosses (2001)

Now with so many of these movies which tell the story of a Mafia boss "Boss of Bosses" gives us a version of Paul Castellano as not being a completely evil man but someone who respected certain things. But in doing so it makes it a little too generic and plays out in such a way to appeal to those who are fans of movies about gangsters rather than for those who want an accurate, in-depth biopic. But as an introduction to who Paul Castellano was, his connections and how things played out for him it goes through the basic storyline in a reasonable way, not delivering anything new just retelling his story in a typical mob movie way. In fact on the subject of typical there is a scene where we are back in the 1930s and it uses the same framing and location of the much greater "Once Upon a Time in America" with the bridge in the background.

Now I am sure that for those who are more clued up on the history of Paul Castellano and the other significant people shown, such as John Gotti, may say that actors don't look right and certainly don't come across right. And that may be the case but I have to applaud Chazz Palminteri as he delivers a solid characterisation and keeps your attention when ever he is on screen which thankfully is for most of the movie.

What this all boils down to is that "Boss of Bosses" is a middle of the road biopic of Paul Castellano which basically dramatizes the well known facts in a typical mob movie way. It isn't terrible but neither is it that good and just a reasonable movie for those who don't know more than the basic facts.


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