Movies and politics are a strange mix; sure, it’s acceptable for your movie to have a political message if it’s, say, All The President’s Men or another such movie explicitly about the subject, but things get dicier when more mainstream movies try their hand at a little muck-raking.
Often movies that seem to be perfectly hitting their expected strides decide to go the extra-ambitious route of filling their script with political undertones, which often give the story an unsavoury, even down-right detestable tone.
At its best, a political message in a Hollywood movie can only enhance our engagement, whereas when it’s poorly pitched, it will distract us from the meat of the story and pull us away. Such is true of these 9 movies, which made needless political statements and distracted us from the awesomeness at hand…
9. The 2008 Recession Even Affected Gangsters – Killing Them Softly
Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly is a brutal, coarse, superbly acted thriller that’s nevertheless victim to a dissatisfying political tone cutting all the way through the entire movie. From the very opening scene, Dominik makes his thesis clear, beginning with audio clips of a speech from Obama and moving from there, peppering a high number of scenes with various political sound-bytes which cement the climate of post-recession America, and how it’s struggling to stay afloat, ironically juxtaposed with what’s happening on-screen.
There’s a parallel between the 2008 financial crisis – where US taxpayers had to bail out banks at their own expense – and the fiscal-driven nature of the narrative, which has gangster Markie (Ray Liotta), an allegory for the banks, if you will, being set up to be greased for ripping off a poker game.
The hitmen involved, meanwhile, have to take a reduced fee due to the economic climate, a tidy reflection of how those tasked with cleaning up the messes are being hit in the wallets for it.
Though the film culminates with a brilliantly angry speech from Brad Pitt’s Cogan, it’s all too lacking in subtlety and too keen to bash the viewer over the head, distracting from what is already a thoroughly engrossing crime narrative in its own right.
This article was first posted on July 4, 2013