Brad Pitt reteams with his “Assassination of Jesse James” director Andrew Dominik for this homage to 70s crime thrillers. Pitt stars as a hitman hired to bring stability to a mafia gang when an underboss hires some underlings to start robbing the syndicate poker games.
There isn’t a lot of Pitt in this film as the focus is mainly on the two underling robbers (Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn). They are quite funny and well crazy in their own right. Pitt supports the subplot of the film as he is hired to hunt them down, deal with womanizing friend (James Gandolfini) and make sure the underlings don’t start a mafia war. Ray Liotta plays the mobster in charge of the poker games and Richard Jenkins is the suit Pitt reports to.
There has been lots of criticism on just how slow the film is and how little action is in it. Well if you remember Dominik’s previous film, “Assassination of Jesse James” then you will know the tone of this director. He takes his time and wants the audience to understand the characters. I liked this journey because it reminded me so fondly of the gritty Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen and early Scorsese movies.
As for there being no action, that just isn’t true. There is one perfect scene where Pitt takes out his target by pulling alongside another car and just starts shooting. It reminded me some of that classic “Bonnie & Clyde” scene except this was in slo-mo and utterly incredible. It could be the best action sequence of the 2012.
I also really enjoyed the script and how these characters were sculpted. Yes the language can get tiresome but really each character is unique and the dialogue supports that. There is no real stand out performance even though Scoot McNairy’s doofus of an underling is kind of fun to watch. Pitt’s role is basically just bring the star-power and he never strays from his comfort zone. Seeing Gandolfini and Liotta in this film made me yearn to see them again in their signature mafioso roles.
I love 70s crime thrillers and this was just my perfect ticket. But it won’t be for everyone.
4.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer