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‘Mob Land’ director Nicholas Maggio on his homage to 90s crime dramas

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John Travolta is a small town sheriff with some big problems in the new film Mob Land, opening in theaters on Friday.

The violent crime thriller, written and directed by Nicholas Maggio, also stars Stephen Dorff, Ashley Benson, Kevin Dillon, and Shiloh Fernandez. Maggio tells ABC Audio the film’s premise — “Small town family man robs an illegal pill mill to take care of his family and gets in way over his head with local bad people” — was influenced by the films he loved growing up.

“I think it started as a child of the early nineties, independent film renaissance,” he explains. “So I, the first time I watched Reservoir Dogs is what sparked my entire infatuation and love for film, understanding what was possible with film, especially with independent film.”

“This idea of very linear storytelling mixed with some poetry mixed were just absolute brutal, no frills violence, you know, that exploits the dark side of humanity, if you will, of society, while also kind of dabbling with the poetry of it all,” he adds.

Mob Land is Maggio’s first feature film, but he convinced Travolta and Dorff to sign on by being “brutally honest” from his first conversations with them.

“… I was like, Yeah, I’ve never done this. I’m extremely nervous. Do I know I can do it? 100%,” he continues.

As for the film opening during the height of the Barbenheimer phenomenon, Maggio has mixed emotions.

“I think any film that brings people to the theater, whether it was Top Gun, whether it’s Oppenheimer or Barbie, I think that’s fantastic,” he explains. “Do I think that it’s tough for my film to come out two weeks after Barbenheimer? Sure. Do I think people might be a little fatigued? Sure.”

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