Directed by Andrew Dominik
Based on the novel Cogan’s Trade by George V. Higgins
Screenplay by Andrew Dominik
Starring: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn
When three bumbling criminals take down a high stakes poker game, they upset the economy of the seedy underworld. Now higher powers have brought in Jackie (Pitt) to do whatever is necessary to restore order.
This film was adapted from the George V. Higgins (The Friends of Eddie Coyle) novel, Cogan’s Trade. Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) wrote and directed this movie. The cast features Brad Pitt (12 Years a Slave), Ray Liotta (Field of Dreams), Richard Jenkins (Jack Reacher), and James Gandolfini (Zero Dark Thirty). The cast also includes Scoot McNairy (Argo) and Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises).
This movie is an interesting story of crime and revenge. The dialogue is the strength of the film, providing both humor and intensity throughout the movie. Unfortunately, the overall execution of the film seems to be aimless and undirected. While the plot is clear from early in the film, the motivations of the characters is lost in the artful visuals. There is also a lack of information of the world outside of a handful of main characters. This might not have been such an issue had the film not brought in the actions of these outsiders. Overall, this is an interesting story that has bright moments but otherwise feels a bit hollow.
The story might have lacked a lot of substance, but the actors made the best of it. Pitt, Liotta, Jenkins, and Gandolfini all brought their best to this one. Despite all the issues with the story, the movie remains somewhat watchable thanks to their performances. Brad Pitt is great in his role as a sentimental enforcer, someone sensitive but also cold-blooded. Liotta, Jenkins, and Gandolfini all do a good job bringing their characters to life as well. In addition to these stars, McNairy and Mendelsohn are great. The two have an interesting chemistry on-screen, and add a lot to the film.
The visuals in this movie are one of its major strengths. Throughout the film, the visuals are used to great effect in providing the gritty reality of the story. The camera work, stunts, and special effects all come together nicely. Like the acting, the visuals add something to this uninspiring story. The violence is portrayed with a brutality that is powerful to see. The editing also adds some intensity to these moments.
This is a great example of a movie that delivers visually, but misses with the story. If you’re looking for some intense moments without the need for much substance, this might be one for you. Otherwise it’s hard to recommend this one. This is a violent film set in the criminal underworld, and it never really meets up with the expectations I had with this cast. I give this one 2.3 out of 5 stars.