Theatrical release: 11/30/2012 DVD Date: 03/26/2013
Rating: R Running Time: 97 minutes
Note(s): Written by Andrew Dominik and based on the novel Cogan's Trade by George V. Higgins.
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Review: This has got to be one of the worst films I have ever seen. Indeed, there is so little to like about this film that I can hardly think of any element or aspect to it that is worthy of even faint praise.
Let me start by saying that yes, I get it, the film is a metaphor or parable or maybe even a parody — or possibly all three — about the financial crisis preceding the Presidential election of 2008. The director makes that abundantly clear over and over and over again. And even if you still haven't gotten it, there are snippets of President George W. Bush and soon-to-be-President Barack Obama talking in almost every scene, playing mostly on television screens placed in the background but sometimes on the radio reminding you of this. Indeed, an overview of what the film is about can be heard by no less than President Bush himself, during a speech heard on the radio when Brad Pitt's character first makes an appearance. So yes, I get what the director was trying to do. America is a business no different than any other, and the politics of the mob are no different than the politics of Washington. I get it. It still doesn't make this a good movie.
For starters, the vast majority of this (mercifully short) film consists of scenes with two people talking to each other, not unlike — you've guessed it — Bush and Obama talking to each other. Or at each other. It's the same thing, here. And what everyone talks about isn't all that interesting. Two inept men have held up a mob card game and made off with the cash. Pitt's character — Jackie Cogan — is brought in to not only kill the two men, but also the man the mob holds responsible for the theft, Ray Liotta's character (Markie Trattman). Is it going to happen? Yes, of course. Is there any element of suspense or tension leading up to the killings? No, none at all. It's all handled in a flat, monotonic manner. It's almost as if not one of the participants here cared enough to ask, is this really a film we are proud to be making? I guess I answered my own question.