In New Orleans in 2008, amidst the economic hard times Markie Trattam (performed by Ray Liotta) runs a card game. He’s done it for years, but has lost a bit of street cred lately since he arranged a hold-up of his own game to pocket all the cash. Johnny Amato (by Vincent Curatola) decides he wants to turn over Markie’s game again and leave Markie squarely in the frame for it – a fool-proof plan! He hires two-bit crook Frankie (by Scoot McNairy) and his dodgy Aussie mate Russell (by Ben Mendelsohn) to do it. The job comes off okay and the boys are home free … but big boss, Dillon (by Sam Shepherd) smells a rat so he hires hit-man Jackie (by Brad Pitt) to sort it out and restore Dillon as top dog. Jackie, in turn, calls on out-of-towner Mikey (by James Gandolfini) to do the job anonymously, but Mikey isn’t the man he once was, so he’s unreliable. Jackie will need to do this himself, so he wants his full whack for the jobs and drives a hard bargain with Dillon’s man (by Richard Jenkins) to get a fair fee. Can Jackie sort this out without the cops crawling all over him?
This is an entertaining crime action thriller. The mood is sepia and dark as a result of the excellent cinematography – there’s no chaos but the violence is deliberate, just the way the characters play it. Brad Pitt owns his role as cool hit-man Jackie, who likes to carry out his hits by killing them “softly”. He wants all the loose ends tied up so his quietly spoken manner is deliberate and clear in its delivery. Mikey is a role that’s classic for James Gandolfini and he fits it like a glove … a cruel, cold-hearted crook with serious weaknesses and little self-awareness. Ray Liotta is strong as Markie and Richard Jenkins is as good as ever here too (in his usual understated way) as Dillon’s man. It’s peppered with great performances and a standout is Australian Ben Mendelson’s fabulous and authentic portrayal of drug-addled Russell – supported by marvellous camerawork, his scenes are great. The movie is based on the book “Cogan’s Trade” by George V. Higgins and was nominated for the coveted Palme d’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival – no surprise there. If you enjoyed “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, “Get Shorty” or “Jackie Brown” you’ll like this one. Well done everyone.
Made in 2011. Directed by Andrew Dominik