Mobsters resembles a cart-before-the-horse case of putting marketing ahead of filmmaking, as the seemingly can’t-miss premise of teen-heartthrob gangsters gets lost in self-important direction, a shoddy script and muddled storytelling.
The narrative is amazingly confused in light of its simplicity: two Italian and two Jewish kids from the ghetto team up in the 1920s and get into organized crime, gradually finding themselves caught between two dons. Story [by co-scripter Michael Mahern] is based on the real-life exploits of mob boss Lucky Luciano (Christian Slater) and confederates Meyer Lansky (Patrick Dempsey), Bugsy Siegel (Richard Grieco) and Frank Costello (Costas Mandylor).
True highlights come from its longer-toothed characters, with Anthony Quinn’s lusty portrayal of Don Masseria and F. Murray Abraham as the Yiddish-spouting no-goodnik Arnold Rothstein.
First-time director Michael Karbelnikoff occasionally betrays his roots in TV commercials, particularly with a ludicrous, gauzily shot love scene between showgirl Lara Flynn Boyle and Slater that closely resembles a perfume ad.
[For pic’s UK release the handle The Evil Empire was added to posters.]