8:00 PM, 27th February, 2013
Two crackbrained criminals, Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and his heroin-addict friend Russell (Mendelsohn), rob an illegal poker game held by mobster Markie Trattman (Liotta). Convinced of their safety, the criminals believe that the heist will be pinned on Markie as an inside job, given that he had previously robbed one of his own games.
Hitman Jackie Cogan (Pitt) is hired to kill Markie, and even though he is aware of his innocence, concludes that he must be killed regardless to protect consumer confidence in his business. In this and other instances, the film makes laboured efforts to draw parallels between the crippled American economy and organised crime.
As the plot destabilises, Cogan hires his friend Mickey (Gandolfini), a reeking booze and prostitute addict, to assist in carrying out a growing list of murders. Mickey is a weary washed-up tough guy, and despite adding memorable moments of violently dark humour, merely serves as another tangent in a too-often digressing story.
Andrew Dominik, the Australian writer-director who made Chopper, succeeds in his evocation of a gritty male-dominated world set in noir backstreets and bars. The murders are played as stylised sequences of intense visual power, but the strenuously drawn-out dialogue scenes that Dominik feels necessary in ferrying his political message ultimately hinder the film’s strength. See it for the terrific cast, and for the visceral mood and look, but be aware of the arduous plot and its over-battered message.