Frankie and Russell are a couple of criminals looking for a break. When offered a chance to hit up a poker game, they choose to go for it. At Markie Trattman’s poker game, the two criminals get their money but do not escape the wrath of the mob. Sending in their hitman, Jackie goes on the hunt for Frankie and Russell. Meanwhile, suspicion remains for Markie because of the stunt he pulled during a previous poker game. Jackie hunts down each of the men one by one to resolve the conflict and restart the local mob economy.
Starring: Brad Pitt (Jackie), Scoot McNairy (Frankie), Ben Mendelsohn (Russell), James Gandolfini (Mickey), Richard Jenkins (Driver), Vincent Curatola (Johnny Amato), Ray Liotta (Markie Trattman), Trevor Long (Steve Caprio), Max Casella (Barry Caprio), Sam Sheppard (Dillon), Slaine (Kenny Gill), Linara Washington (Hooker)
The cast for the film was pulled together to bring to life a representation of the challenges of real world economics in the smaller world of the mob. Pitt is a bit direct in his violence and talks with a smoothness that helps to balance out the drama created by some of the other characters. McNairy serves as more of the brains of the operation while Mendelsohn is the reckless one. The bigger comparison falls between Gandolfini and Jenkins. Gandolfini is somewhat of a complainer and overtalker, while Jenkins is more stoic and inscrutable. Liotta is also a bit of a reckless person but represents what happens when you tempt fate too much.
Andrew Dominik channeled a bit of Martin Scorsese in the process of making this intelligent glimpse into the dirty world of the mob. The robbery of the poker game was seen as an easy for the criminals because they could just take advantage of Markie’s previous attempt to rob his own game. When Jackie was sent on the trail, he took out Markie’s recklessness first, though a couple of other guys shook him down first. He then went after Russell, getting him sent to jail. Finally, he convinced Frankie to join him in a killing and then finished the job by taking Frankie out. Jackie represented the American taking hold of his destiny.
The point of this movie was to merge together the dealings of the mob with some elements of the American economy. Driver was meant to represent the mob boss, or the American government. His conversation at the end of the film representative the complex and inscrutable nature of the government. Mickey was the negative image of the American people: greedy, weak, and opportunistic. Jackie, on the other hand, was the equalizer. He represented, though in a dark, non-heroic way, the type of America that we would hope to see with taking hold of what people want. While he cleans up the mess of the criminal underground, he also does so to restore order and get paid what he believed he had earned.
While the action was not as grandiose as one would imagine and the speed of the film can drag at times, the images and conversations created in the film make for an intriguing experience.
Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5