Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Get Gotti does a disservice to The Teflon Don

For their latest project, the creators of Fear City team with Netflix once again to tell the meteoric rise and crashing fall of infamous mobster John Gotti in Get Gotti.

It’s 1985, and Back to the Future dominates the box office. New Edition is the hottest teen act in the country, and the San Francisco 49ers are the Superbowl champions. While John Gotti becomes the most powerful man in New York, he is also the most surveilled in the city that never sleeps. His public execution of ‘Boss of Bosses’ Paul Castellano has set in motion a series of events that catapults the young mobster to the helm of America’s most powerful mafia family.

As the tentacles of Gotti’s criminal enterprise extend deep into the city’s heart, law enforcement and state prosecutors scramble to bring the charismatic Godfather to his knees. Throughout three fifty-minute episodes, viewers will hear from the very mouths of those who brought down The Teflon Don.

Following his 1992 conviction, The Dapper Don’s persona seemed to only grow mainly in entertainment. Gotti has been the subject of six TV movies, two documentary series, and three feature films. As Hip Hop heads can attest, he even carried over toe music as Yo Gotti’s name is a homage to him, while other rappers have referenced him numerous times.

One of the documentary notable shortcomings is its failure to explore the moral complexities and ethical dilemmas that come with depicting organized crime. On the one hand, I understand that the plot centers on showing Gotti as a villain. Getting Gotti doesn’t aim to romanticize the gangster lifestyle by painting Gotti as a hero figure; instead, it focuses on thoroughly examining the consequences of his actions.

This angle lacks critical examination and undermines the potential for a thought-provoking exploration of Gotti’s rise to power and his criminal activities’ impact on his personal life and the community around him. The participants interviewed come across as dry, almost as if they are reading cue cards or are being fed answers through an earpiece. The production design and cinematography attempt to capture New York City’s gritty atmosphere in the late ’70s and ’80s, so I will give credit where it’s due.

Similar to the 1999 HBO biopic and 2018 feature film, which saw Armand Assante and John Travolta portraying Gotti, Getting Gotti is a mediocre project that fails to live up to the potential of its larger-than-life-than-subject. While I learned some new information, the series was just dry. Fans of true crime stories and John Gotti’s legacy might find some interest in the series, but overall, it falls short compared to other notable entries.

Final Grade: C

Get Gott is available on Netflix today.

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