From the start of the film you see that, besides being a gangster flick, it is also a very political film. It takes place during the presidential elections of 2008, and we meet the first characters, two heist-men, having a meeting in an empty lot with Obama and McCain billboards in the skyline.
The heist-men do a sloppy—but successful—job robbing a card game run by local mobsters. This is where Brad Pitt’s character, Jackie Cogan, is brought in: to hire independent contract killers to take care of those heist-men.
One of the many interesting scenes involves Jackie Cogan telling the mob representative who hires him how emotions can sometimes hinder an assassination attempt. He tells him he likes "killing them softly," from far away.
Another interesting thread in the story is how they handle the guy running the card game, Markie (Ray Liotta). Markie had nothing to do with the robbery, but since people on the street think he had something to do with it, then Markie needs to get whacked. (If you read all the above and don't think about Blackwater, drones, Iraq, or Afghanistan, then I don't know what to do with you).
In a statement found on a promotional website for the film, Director Andrew Dominik says:
"I've always felt that crime dramas are essentially about capitalism, since they show the capitalist idea working in its most base form. It's also the only genre where it's completely acceptable that the characters are motivated only by a desire for money. None of this 'family values,' 'follow your dream,' moral compass bullshit."Unfortunately, this film fell way under the radar when it was released in theaters in 2012. It is also very much dialogue driven, which can be hard for an audience that has been trained to love only action driven films.
If you didn’t love Brad Pitt before, you’ll love him in this role, as a no-nonsense enforcer who delivers some of the best dialogue that takes a shit on American Democracy—which also includes some of the best final lines in any movie I can remember.