Last year a movie came out that was either a poorly thought out piece of antigun propaganda or a film that badly misjudged or mistimed the cultural zeitgeist. In either case people just didn’t go see it. From a thirteen million dollar budget it grossed three and a half mil in theaters making it on the top one hundred list of biggest box office bombs. I briefly considered seeing this movie in theaters but I decided against it for a variety of reasons and I am not even sure if it was shown at any theaters within a hundred miles of me.
Time goes by, the movie is released on DVD and I am one of a handful of people who put in a request for this film at the local library. Yesterday I saw this movie and I was blown away, I was so overwhelmed by one scene in particular that I literally had to press the stop button and go into my backyard and laugh like a maniac for fifteen minutes straight. Now if you don’t want this movie spoiled for you, go watch it now. Just so you know I rate this thing a one out of five and it earns that rating in ways that I could never conceive of.
First of all, this is a movie about lobbying. A profession which is widely considered to be more despised than politician. How does one go about making a compelling film about lobbying? Well they don’t, not actual lobbying in the literal sense of the word happens in this film. As in hanging around in a politicians lobby. This movie is all about the dirty tricks that are used to see to it that a bill becomes law, by any means necessary.
The film stars Jessica Chastain as the most utterly unlikeable protagonist in any story I have ever seen in my life. I sincerely hope Ms Chastain is nothing like this character because Miss Sloane is completely without any redeeming qualities. Someone who seems to aspire to the clean brutality of the life of a psychopath but just doesn’t quite have the physical courage or that last ounce of determination to get there. Seriously, Immortan Joe is a far more interesting and sympathetic character than Miss Sloane.
Filling out the rest of the cast is a bunch of other reprehensible characters, other lobbyists, gun control advocates, politicians and two creepy ex NSA agents, more on them later. There are only three somewhat relatable characters in the whole damn movie. A gun control advocate with a mind for numbers named Manchurian. A male prostitute who is desperately trying to make a connection with Miss Sloane. Nothing too grandiose or intimate just the sort of things that a normal human being would do. While she is quite insistent that he is just there for sex. And the head of the “boutique” lobbying firm that Sloane works for who is desperately trying to keep her under control and within the bounds of the law.
I could prattle on about how this film is badly acted, poorly directed and really badly written. I could detail its failings point by point. The utterly and deeply reprehensible actions of the characters. If I were to sum up this movie with one word it would be reprehensible. Instead I will focus on two scenes. The ending and the scene that made me laugh like a madman.
The scene that made me laugh revolves around the gun control advocate, Manchurian. During a televised debate where Miss Sloane decries the US Constitution and the second amendment as an outdated document as relevant in modern society as a horoscope she points to Manchurian and outs her on nationwide TV as the survivor of a school shooting. Manchurian wanted this kept under wraps for a variety of logical and personal reasons. The publicity stunt works and Manchurian becomes another face for the noble cause of keeping guns out of the hands of murderous psychopaths.
Later on Manchurian and Sloane are talking on the phone while Manchurian is coming out of a train station. One of those pesky murdering psychopaths ambushes Manchurian with what looks like a Tokarev pistol and says something to the tune of.
“You want to take my guns away you bitch!? Well take this one! Go ahead!”
He fires a shot in the air, attracting the attention of everyone in earshot.
“I’m gonna finish the job that school shooter started!” (Ooooh isn’t he just evil folks?)
The psychopath is dead, shot by a legal concealed weapons permit holder.
Now if you are making a movie in support of gun control isn’t this an odd and rather contradictory scene? But wait, it gets even crazier!
Later on Sloane and Manchurian meet in an airport where Sloane gives a halfhearted apology for making her the face of a controversial movement and putting her in the literal crosshairs of an assassin. Making her reenact the worst experience of her entire life. Manchurian says that she has to go clear her head and will continue to fight for gun control. But not if it means working with Sloane again. As Manchurian walks away she says something like.
“I just can’t get past the thought that you might have staged this, that you sent that psychopath after me intending to make me a martyr.”
That was so perfect, a gem of coherent thought in a movie full to bursting with nonsense an contradictions. An elegant takedown of a character gone utterly mad with power. I burst out laughing at the sheer insanity that it took to write this scene that I had to go outside and get all the laughs out.
I don’t think that’s what the writer intended.
Now for the ending. After two hours of political dirty tricks like crisis actors, paid protestors, extortion and more hypocrisy than you can shake a stick at we come to the senate subcommittee hearing that you just know that a movie like this has to end in. Miss Sloane is facing the threat of prison for a paperwork screwup at her old firm. The prostitute was dragged before the subcommittee, however he perjured himself to save her for some unknown reason. In her (poorly directed) final statement she basically says that she did a variety of ethically reprehensible and illegal things to get the Universal Background Check bill passed. But that she did the right thing the wrong way. For no other reason than it seemed logical to her, and that it’s not her that was wrong it’s the system that is wrong.
Then she says something about always having a trump card. She reveals that she is such a grandmaster of strategic thought that the paperwork screwup was just another part of her long and elaborate plan. She knew what her former coworkers were doing the whole time because she retained a mole at her old firm. Those guys being employed by the NRA to defeat UBC. She also used those aforementioned NSA agents to obtain evidence of collusion between her old firm and a Senator using a bio-mechanical abomination. A remote control cockroach rigged with a listening device.
In the last scene she is in jail, talking to her lawyer. The lawyer says that she will probably be getting out soon because the Senators crimes were somehow worse than hers. He also observes that she is looking pretty good and she responds with some kind of feminist bullshit/outright lie that jail isn’t that bad if you aren’t a man. How women prisoners support each other instead of shanking each other. (Anyone who has ever been locked up in a women’s prison is free to leave a comment below) Then the lawyer makes a somewhat surprising statement and asks an inevitable question.
“The bill passed, criminals have to go to the black market to get their guns now. Was it really worth it?”
“Better to commit career suicide than suicide by career.”
I mean wow. That is a truly epic pile of horse-shit. There is just so much to unpack. First of all, if I kill two innocent people trying to catch a guy who has killed three innocent people that doesn’t mean that I am going to get a lighter sentence. Second the movie itself torpedoes its high and mighty moral crusader message, twice! Third there are ways to commit career suicide that don’t involve a long, horribly complicated plan that ends with you going to prison. Ever hear of a thing called a resignation letter? Perhaps you could have just taken a dump on your bosses desk? Fourth NSA may have godlike omniscience and thus gets a pass on wiretapping senators but if you do it as a private citizen I’m pretty sure you ain’t getting out of The Clink in less than 20 years. If they don’t have you suicided or shanked before your trial even starts. The average porn movie has a better grasp of reality and a more logical story line than this.
Which brings me to my final point. I am an advocate for critical and rational thought. This movie is more than just a poorly produced antigun propaganda piece. It is a triumph of contradictory thinking. Movies that try to be illogical nonsense can’t help but be coherent compared to an atrocity like this in my minds eye. This movie has convinced me to redouble my efforts to try to bring about more critical thinking in the world. To make an even deeper commitment to peaceful anarchism-voluntarism-Feening-whatever. To show people like the Antifascist crowd or people who write movies like this the error of their ways. To those of you who are working towards this keep at it and know that I love you.
To convince us all to continue on with our mission, even claptrap like this film serves a purpose.