In this adaptation of Cogan’s Trade, Brad Pitt helms a fantastic cast through the ups and downs of the hard economic times of a seemingly illegal sub-community. When a card games goes south, a second similar hold-up, the obvious suspect is found guilty, as are the actual culprits. What starts off as a simple heist spirals into the criminals being held responsible for their actions by yet another criminal, a law among thieves, so to speak. Two ne’er do wells, Frankie and Russell, go in on scheme to hold-up a known card game that the host had already held-up. Their leader, Squirrel, advises that the host will be held responsible. The scheme goes off without a hitch, but as is the case with most criminals, neither are terribly bright and soon reveal their heist to others, thus admitting their guilt. When the enforcer arrives, he is forced to hire another enforcer, but this enforcer has a mental breakdown, leaving the job to be handled by the one enforcer. The dialogue between the two enforcers, played by Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini is well worth the price of admission alone. The story comes to a climax once Pitt’s Cogan finishes the job, ensuring the group he works for is protected from being discovered.
At times, the story-telling was heavy-handed. The movie is set with the backdrop of the 2008 Election, campaign rhetoric from President Bush, future President Obama and Senator McCain, amongst others are interspersed with the main story. The concept of the story comes fully into focus as Pitt’s Cogan rails at his contact that the President claims many things, but America is a business and he deserves to be paid for the work he has done. The down-trodden characters like Frankie and Russell are the prototypical representations of Romney’s now famous 47 per cent, people who expect the government to bail them out, that owe them. The contact for Cogan, Driver, seemed to represent the government intermediary to the faceless committee he serves. The overt tone of government bureaucracy is doubled as Driver refuses to pay Cogan the rate promised to Mickey, played by James Gandolfini. His character is also troubled, representing the expectation that he should get paid for doing little to nothing.
I may have seen more into the movie than was implied, but the thoughtful narrative with the graphic violence and unrelenting ending makes for a worthwhile two-hour investment. Pitt leads the story through various twists and turns, that at times slow the pace down, the payoff not realised until the end. The movie may not be a superficial indulgence as most Hollywood movies are, well worth the watch for the thoughtful movie-goer.