"Gotti" is a look at the life of John Gotti who goes from the head of a small mafia crew to head of the Gambino family, breaking some rules of the family along the way. But whilst many bosses looked to keep a low profile Gotti courted publicity with his sharp suits and media appearances leading him to be known as the Dapper Don. He also got to be known as the Teflon Don as despite the FBI's best efforts nothing they tried to pin on him stuck. But as time passes his greed, the rule breaking, the fear of who he can trust along with his courting of the media threatens to finally bring him down.
Look, I am no expert on the Mafia, I haven't done extensive reading on the various people who have been known to be part of the family but I do love mob movies. For that reason I cannot say whether or not "Gotti", the 1996 made for TV movie, accurately tells the story of John Gotti and I can't say whether or not Armand Assante's as John Gotti is an accurate characterisation of the man. What I can say is that back in 1996 "Gotti" was a top ten mob movie and getting on for 20 years later it is still a top ten mob movie.
Now what you get with "Gotti" is the familiar and the story which is why it is entertaining. That familiar is the feel of the movie as watching Gotti and his crew sitting around playing cards in a cafe, telling stories and ragging on each other is what I personally like from a mob movie. As such when we get lines like "I know a man" and "to the boss" or "business or pleasure" these all combine to make it entertaining in a cliche mob movie sort of way. So okay in real life maybe members of the family don't speak and act like they do in the movies but do I really want to watch the real thing, in truth no.
What we also get is the detail and this is two fold because what we firstly get is a walk through of Gotti's life, his rise to power, how he got his nick names and the rules he broke in getting power. But what we also get is a portrait of a man, a man in touch with his past and where he came from on the street, a shrewd person who has the confidence to face up to people and some one who has respect for others but only those who he feels are on the same path as him. As such we also get is to see a ruthless side to Gotti when it comes to those who were close and then questioned what he was doing. This and what is the cliche side combine to make "Gotti" the 2 pointer with that mix of information and entertainment with Armand Assante for me perfectly cast in the role of John Gotti, bringing that touch of class but also that aspect of street to the character.
What this all boils down to is that "Gotti" has always been in my top ten mob movies and still is a fantastic movie after almost 20 years with its mix of familiar aspects but also with the story to back them up.