Bill C’s Review – 2.5 out of 5
I had mixed emotions about this movie. Brad Pitt stars as a hit man sent to find the folks who hit a mob-backed poker game and restore confidence so the games can be resumed. Pitt gives a fine performance as a no-nonsense enforcer who clearly sees what must be done to restore order. While he’ll willingly kill if needed, he likes to do so as efficiently as possible without causing the victims any unnecessary angst. His superiors (as represented by the always excellent, always understated Richard Jenkins) refuse to see things so clearly and make things more difficult than they need to be.
For the most part, I liked the movie as a character study of Pitt out to do his job and I found the plot fairly interesting. The point of the movie is to show the parallels between how the mob world and business/political worlds work. The movie takes place during financial meltdown and the presidential campaign in 2008. At first it’s interesting how they intersperse the movie plot with some of the Obama speeches, but they do a ton of this and, if you haven’t figured it out by the end of the movie, they let Brad Pitt give a speech to make sure you get it.
I thought they could have toned down one very violent scene. It’s funny–I can watch a Tarantino movie with hundreds of people getting killed and losing limbs without it bothering me, but this one did troubled me due to its realism and focus on a single person.
Overall I liked this film, but this is a luke-warm recommendation.
Bill I’s Review – 2.5 out of 5
I agree with Bill’s lukewarm review. I found it watchable, but the tenuous link to 2008 politics and greed in greater society was a big stretch and not insightful or compelling at all. Yes, people are greedy, but I can’t relate to these hit men (as thoughtful as Brad’s character is, when he kills them so quickly they don’t feel any pain) or small-time idiot thiefs. I kept waiting for the point, for some underlying reason to care about any of these characters. I found James Gandolfini’s wheezy fat hit man for hire character who’s seen better days to be the most fun to watch, but he’s also the most despicable character in the film. Bill references Tarantino, whoI think was probably an inspiration for the film makers here, but it’s missing the excitement and style, leaving mainly the graphic violence and the characters spouting dialogue that sounds like it should be interesting.
If you want to see greed, big time money up for grabs, suspense about a dead body, and a characters you care about, spend your 2 hours or so seeing Arbitrage with Richard Gere, much better than this.