Sammy Gravano (Nicholas Turturro) finds that he is making a name for himself when he comes to the attention of Paul Castellano (Abe Vigoda) and Salvatore "Toddo" Aurello (Philip Baker Hall) leading to Castellano making him a made man and he then comes to the attention of the up and coming John Gotti (Tom Sizemore). But after years of loyal service Gravano becomes disenchanted with Gotti and after being arrested by the FBI turns state witness, breaking the Cosa Nostra code of honour.
I have come to the decision that Martin Scorsese has a lot to answer for because is he hadn't given us the brilliant "Goodfellas" we wouldn't have so many mob movies which end up inferior for drawing on aspects of it. In fairness even those which do things differently end up inferior as between "Goodfellas" and "The Godfather" no other mob movies get close to being both exciting and entertaining.
Now part of the trouble with "Witness to the Mob" is that it serves up that familiar use of narration to tell the story and unfortunately the writing for the narration in this movie is not as sharp or as entertaining as that in "Goodfellas". It immediately makes it a weak imitation but then this is compounded by the casting as we have many familiar faces in yet another mob movie such as Abe Vigoda, Vincent Pastore and Johnny Williams. Of course many mob movies have the same issues but something about "Witness to the Mob" makes these elements stick out.
The reason why "Witness to the Mob" ends up feeling too much like an imitation is because it is dull. Okay dull may be a bit harsh but laborious is more accurate as whilst it works through the mob career of Gravano it feels like those involved felt a need to play it safe and remove anything which may shock audiences. If there had been more power and impact then I can guarantee that all the cliche stuff wouldn't have stood out so much. And unfortunately with it lacking the power and drama the performances are dull as well with Nicholas Turturro almost seeming anonymous for long parts of the movies.
What this all boils down to is that in truth "Witness to the Mob" in on par with most mob movies and fails to hold up to the big mob movies thanks to certain elements such as the narration which makes you instantly compare it.