With a cast of stars including Pitt, Gandolfini and Liotta and based on a crime novel involving the mafia, hits and heists you would expect this to be excellent, so is it? yes! well no, hmmm...errr yeeaah...kinda.
The plot in this film is really very simple and pretty thin. Ray Liotta's character sets up his own poker ring operation for the loot and gets away with it scot free. Sometime later two losers do the same thing to Liotta's poker ring and they get away with all the loot...putting Liotta's character under suspicion. Pitt's hitman character is then brought in to sort out the whole situation and find out who stuck up the poker ring for a second time. Which I might add he manages quite easily it seems.
That's the game in a nutshell and like Pitt's acting its basic. This film is semi decent yet flawed, flawed in the sense that the plot is stretched out to 1h 37min with lots of pointless dialog. Most of which bares no relation to the actual plot but just drones on. The main sequences guilty of this are the dialogs between Pitt and Gandolfini, the latter of which just goes on and on about screwing hookers whilst drinking and not much else.
To be honest the plot is half way complete early into the film, Pitt has his job to do and it doesn't need this long to watch him do it. Don't get me wrong though the acting is terrific throughout from almost all players involved...well the stars, accept Pitt. Liotta is turned from tough guy to punch bag in this mobster story and he does it well. Gandolfini looks every bit like a real mafioso head honcho year by year and does what he does best despite the meaningless rambling dialog he has and Jenkins is solid n stoic as ever.
For me this film does highlight how very average an actor Pitt is surrounded by some serious acting stalwarts. Again don't get me wrong, Pitt does OK in his role and in any less of a film he would be fine but this is a grown up mobster flick and he just doesn't match up. I'm not really too sure why they would cast the guy in this type of film really.
One sequence I don't get with Pitt's character is when he whacks one guy...but using a shotgun?!. Not only that but he does it from a distance!, surely shotguns aren't that effective from a distance and surely carrying out a hit this way would attract a lot of attention from say...the noise?!. Not to mention the mess and damage, ah what do I know.
The other thing that bugged me was Scoot McNairy and his annoying tone of voice, the guy sounded like 'Shaggy' outta 'Scooby Doo' for pete's sake!! geeeez!. Didn't think much of Ben Mendelsohn either really. He's an Aussie actor and plays an Aussie in the film, the guy just didn't fit in the story a tall, typical US hoods and an Aussie, nah.
The profanity count is high and the violence is brutal, it may make you wince, possibly even jump at times but there isn't lots of it. As this takes place in 2008 there is also snippets from the real event of President Obama's election campaign and victory, why? I'm not so sure as it has no real relevance to the plot or its outcomes. There is a political message in here as Pitt's character states 'America's not a country, its just a business', its all about $$$.
The film is well directed whilst visually it looks slick and gritty, but its trying to hard to be a Scorsese product or trying to hard to be something unique and different. Either way it doesn't really make it mainly down to the fact there isn't much of a plot to speak of.