This movie was done in a style that was quite unique from your standard issue shoot 'em up or Scorsese gangster movie in a number of ways I found refreshing. It slowed down the pace of dialogue scenes to a relatable and believable level, made the violence far more realistic, and didn't overdo the music. Those who can't handle too much, or too realistic of violence won't like this movie.
Some might feel the dialogue makes the movie drag just a bit, but if you like realistic filmmaking, they've made it feel as if you're sitting in on actual conversations. The scenes and cuts are long but are livened up with the fairly constant scummy-ness of the characters. James Gandolfini seemed to prattle on a little too much but I suppose that was the point.
The violence can be summed up as unsentimental; much of it can be defined by the difficult achievement of not falling into played out Hollywood clichés. There are no heros in this movie as the director doesn't use cheap tricks, like voiceovers, disproportionate screen time, or happy music to convince you that one criminal is worth rooting for over the others. There is no glorification or demonization of violence, as it is depicted without the influence of music, and the audience can decide for themselves about what is being shown. There are no Schwartzenegger-style shoot outs, as the violence is usually sudden but brutal and loud. Every gunshot is closer to being as loud as real life, so you get a little jolt with every shot like being at a gun range.
The use of music is also played down and important in making both the violence and dialogue distinct. There is some music which gives the movie some energy, but overall far less than the average Hollywood film. This adds an element of suspense as the music doesn't give away what is about to happen in every scene (like a movie with ominous music when something bad is about to happen, etc.). The lack of music also allows the audience a semblance of neutrality in what they are observing; characters are allowed to be likable without being good.
This is the sort of movie you could expect if the hero was removed and you only had the villains and thugs left over--it is far less boring.
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