All a person needs to defeat the powerful gun groups and enact basic gun control is a brilliant, heartless lobbyist with spy equipment and a willingness to commit perjury.
Or that’s the lesson of “Miss Sloane,” a movie billed as an incisive political thriller showing how Washington, D.C., and its web of lobbyists really work.
Directed by John Madden and written by Jonathan Perera, the movie received a box office welcome almost as cold as the title character. (RELATED: Box Office Disaster — No One Expected Jessica Chastain’s Gun Control Movie To Flop This Hard [VIDEO])
In the first moments of the movie, lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain) is testifying before a Senate hearing on charges of improper gifts related to a different matter. But the real battle going on is against a barely-concealed analog of the NRA over a bill requiring universal background checks for gun sales.
She shares her outlook on Washington: Lobbying is about “foresight,” about plotting one step ahead of your opposition, and about “making sure you surprised them, and they don’t surprise you.”
Nearly every pro-gun character is either a slimy rat, or someone who owns one assault rifle for home defense and “three more just to piss of lefties.”
The only pro-gun character in the film who isn’t on the payroll of the NRA archetype is a man with a concealed-carry permit. Though he’s in the film for less than two minutes and has two lines of dialogue, he actually does something helpful when he saves the life of one character by shooting a crazed lunatic. His heroism is dismissed quickly, though, since he would have passed a background check.
In the Washington Sloane inhabits — which is more cynical than “House of Cards” and less realistic than “Olympus Has Fallen” — the reality is that Second Amendment reforms can never happen where a “vast and fanatical” population go to polls to vote exclusively on gun issues.
To confront that reality, an upstart, shoestring advocacy group approaches Sloane, a politico so brilliant she finds popular solutions to mundane problems like sugar tariffs and increasing sales taxes on snack cakes. She seems happy at her job, but when the gun lobby makes a demeaning, sexist pitch to Miss Sloane, asking her to help shift the “moms against gun violence” movement into a “moms for defense” ad campaign, she quits her job and goes to work for the other side.
Most of the film jumps around as Sloane wins battle after battle, easily outwitting opposing lobbyists who say things like “our delivery must be tailored for maximum impact.” She uses spies and apparently illegal cockroach listening devices (bugs) to learn the secrets of the other side.
She manipulates a victim of gun violence to come out on live TV and share a heartbreaking story of living through a Columbine-style shooting. She even orchestrates a giant rat parade float that follows a senator around Washington for some viral media coverage.
Eventually, the only move left for the pro-gun crowd is to blackmail a sitting senator and bring Sloane before a Senate hearing for her improper work. Don’t be surprised, even the Senate hearing and the perjury charges she garners there are part of Miss Sloane’s plan.
Sloane is playing chess in 18 dimensions and thinking as many moves ahead of the Second Amendment crowd. Many characters ask Sloane why she works so hard on this one issue — she must have trauma in her past, perhaps she or someone close to her was the victim of gun violence.
No, Sloane sacrifices her promising career, takes a dramatic pay cut, and spirals into a workaholic, psychostimulant-fueled political rampage for two reasons: She loves to fight, and universal background checks just makes sense. When you find a position that makes logical sense, Sloane tells one character, you just fight for it.
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