15th Sep 2012 4:59pm | By Alasdair Morton
The title refers to Brad Pitt’s hitman’s method of dealing with his targets – from afar to avoid any emotional entanglements: people pleading, calling for their mothers, that sort of thing.
It couldn’t be any less apt a description for his actions, though – or for director Andrew Dominik’s brutal, blood-soaked gangster thriller.
Low-level hoodlums and the mob clash in this Boston-set crime tale, as a pair of strung-out junkie fuck-ups robs a mob-controlled poker game, a contract landing on their heads for their efforts. In steps Pitt – re-teaming with his The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford director – to clear up the mess.
It has an all-star cast: James Gandolfini as a boozy hitman; Ray Liotta a mobster whose luck is on the wane; Richard Jenkins as a business-orientated crime family middleman – and Kiwi Dominik refuses to shy away from the violence.
Slow-mo shootings and beatings take centre stage as his art-house sensibilities come to the fore (a rear-seat POV car crash shines as a case in point).
There is also an element of black humour, too, with Animal Kingdom’s Ben Mendelson as a smart-mouthed crim who is even more despicable than his Melbourne crime-drama counterpart.
The strong political angle grants Dominik’s film a fresh take on the gangster genre: set during the 2008 US presidential elections, barely a scene goes by without McCain/ Obama appearing on a TV screen or radio somewhere, or someone decrying the state of the nation.
By the time the ‘America’s a business... you’re on your own’ indictment falls, it is hard to disagree, or see how it has changed.
Starring: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ray Liotta | 18 | 97mins | On general release Sept 21
Good for: Gangster fans keen to see a fresh, politically charged spin on their beloved genre