Film4: Sunday 10 May, 10.55pm
Mob enforcer Brad Pitt is brought in to take out the lowlife dummies who held up a protected card game. Relocated from Boston to New Orleans, Andrew Dominik’s adaptation of a typically bleak George V. Higgins novel sets the dog-eat-dog workings of the criminal fraternity against the backdrop of the 2008 US election. Bush and Obama spout platitudes about the state of the nation, while Pitt quietly goes about his business. He prefers to keep his distance, it’s nothing personal. “Jackie, he’s not a bad guy, you know,” says Scoot McNairy, after fingering Pitt’s next target. “None of them are, kid,” says Pitt. “They’re all nice guys.” Goons who reveal facets of their character through their speech which, in the manner of David Mamet’s work, is carefully patterned and colourfully demotic. And none of them would know how to do the right thing if they saw it spelled out in the Bible. As in Dominik and Pitt’s previous collaboration, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, all the performances are aces. And, apart from one stylistic choice that goes beyond pretentious to perverse, Dominik keeps a tight rein on a crime drama that’s almost as resonant as Peter Yates’ 1973 thriller, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, the first of Higgins’ novels to be filmed. This is the second, based on the 1974 story Cogan’s Trade. Yates’ film made the same point forcefully without any political tub-thumping: crime is business.