Witness to the Mob Thaddeus O'Sullivan

Back in the late ’90s, the networks had a serious hard-on for mobster bio-pics and gangster depictions, with HBO’s Gotti and The Sopranos, CBS’s The Last Don II and this, NBC’s Witness to the Mob, a three-hour tele-film about the rat that snitched out John Gotti. Focusing on Sammy "the Bull” Gravano (Nicholas Turturro), Witness covers the various trials, executions and invariably sociopathic goings on as he makes his way up the ranks of the Gambino crime family. Glib voiceovers attempt to humanize him as he prattles on endlessly about honour and manhood while repeatedly shooting people in the back of the head, like his brother-in-law, as well as his best friend Louie (Michael Imperioli). This understandably pisses off his devoted wife Deborah (Debi Mazar) but endears him to mobster legend John Gotti (Tom Sizemore), who ultimately manipulates and uses Sammy, just like everyone else in the mob. In fact, the majority of this three-hour film is devoted to various fat, hairy-backed men in tacky, overpriced suits lying to, exploiting and talking crap about each other, which inevitably leads to a bullet in the back of the head. Even the FBI remark upon this while investigating them, suggesting that they might as well just leave them to kill each other. Truthfully, if these monosyllabic, unknowing puppets in global terrorist financing were to kill each other off the world would likely be better for it. The glorification and attempted humanization of soulless apes who respond emotionally with guns itself is a continuing problem in mainstream entertainment. Thankfully, Witness does reflect on the fact that the aforementioned honour is a giant crock — since these men are essentially grown boys with guns and an over-inflated sense of self — but is far too literal-minded to interpret this beyond voiceover. The DVD release includes no special features and is only available in the old school 4x3 aspect ratio. (Koch)