Amazon’s Too Old to Die Young
Volume 7: “The Magician”
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Written by Refn & Ed Brubaker
* For a recap & review of Volume 6: “The High Priestess” – click here
* For a recap & review of Volume 8: “The Hanged Man” – click here
In the Tarot, The Magician represents resourcefulness and the ability to reveal all the magical, creative essence in each aspect of life. If upright, it means all the ingredients for success are at one’s disposal. The Magician reveals hidden knowledge in everything, and can herald important journeys / a new burst of creativity. If reversed, it presents The Magician as a trickster capable of deception, and that the motives of others are not as they appear— it is a warning against disappointment or betrayal.
Diana (Jena Malone) gives Martin (Miles Teller) a hypothetical situation about a burning car. She’s testing him, to get a sense of his morals, of how he feels about existence. She asks a question about a teenager being attracted to him and what he’d do about it. He lies, given what we know about him and Janey (Nell Tiger Free). Diana offers Martin the chance to ask questions about their “higher form of advocacy.” Her clients make an offering and give over the name of a perpetrator. What follows is left to Viggo (John Hawkes). Now that the old assassin’s dying, he must pass on the sword.
Dt. Jones goes to a woman’s house telling her about a recent home invasion in the neighbourhood. The woman and her husband are foster parents. Martin and Viggo have come to murder them. The man is shot in the kitchen while the woman is stabbed brutally in the living room.
A great music cue afterwards has “Homicide” by 999 playing while Martin sips a drink with what looks like an Aristotle bust next to him. He’s at Janey’s 18th birthday with an eclectic crowd of Theo’s (Billy Baldwin) bougie friends. While he watches others dance and enjoy themselves he sees visions of murder along with the sounds of choppers, an internet dial-up modem, and what may be a rally in Nazi Germany— these are the sounds of the postmodern world. This scene seems to show how Martin can’t escape its ills, not even at a party, with his head full of the Western world’s decline.
The detective-assassin is called to see Damian (Babs Olusanmokun), told about the recent attempt on the gangster’s life. He hears about the Mexicans and “territorial disputes” that have led into full-on war. Damian wants to know what the LAPD knows. He doesn’t want to start slaughtering people until he’s sure it’s the cartel. Martin calls one of his shitty colleagues— who can’t stop talking about either of their dicks— to put out feelers.
After the party, Janey wakes covered in patches of blood. A fitting image, in that sex is, in many ways, an inherently violent act— Refn’s often linking sex and violence, drawing connections between sex and death specifically at times, as well. Janey even has a little taste of blood for good measure. She admits later it turned her on.
Martin wakes to Theo doing his weird tiger thing while, again, snorting back that coke drip. He later gives us a decidedly Trump-esque comment about if Janey “wasn‘t my daughter,” then strokes one out while her boyfriend’s nearby. Horrifying. The detective-assassin pistol whips Theo, looping a belt around his neck, choking him.
He breaks dear ole dad’s neck.
Refn also goes big time meta here. Theo’s latest project, based on Dt. Jones’s life rights, contains an interesting scene, similar to the opening of Volume 1 with two cops being unprofessional with a young woman driving. Not only that, there’s a poster on the wall of the viewing room for The Nest of the Cuckoo Birds, which was playing on TV when Martin killed his second victim.
“You wouldn’t know art if it punched you in the face”
Dead Theo means a corpse in need of disposal. The young assassin turns to the older, though Viggo’s less than impressed. Despite the fact they murder people there’s a code that keeps them honourable, in a sense. Sort of like samurai, just not quite as rigorous or actually honourable.
Still— Martin’s violated the code. Funny enough, it’s the first time he gets sick from killing. He’s also got the Lieutenant (Hart Bochner) trying to get him back to work early. His boss quips about Jesus being “back on his feet in three days” after the crucifixion. His comment about returning American to its status as “a shining city on a hill” also reeks of the Bible. This illustrates the close quarters of church and state, whereas Martin represents a more esoteric, spiritual path towards justice. Very important scene, especially when you consider the other scene at the office where the LT sang that weird religious song and played the ukulele.
Once the body and the car are gone, Martin tells Viggo about Theo and why he killed him. The older assassin’s troubled about what could come next, if his protege starts to murder without reason. Martin doesn’t want to be a cop anymore. He wants to live the one life that’s fulfilling him. To be an assassin wholly, he has to cut himself off from that fake, righteous morality of the police world.
He and Viggo go to Damian’s place, where the Jamaican music plays loud. Inside, they find an absolute bloodbath. Dead bodies everywhere. In one of the back rooms is Damian, or what’s left of him, anyway— two chopped off hands.
The poor gangster is held elsewhere. He’s visited by Jesus (Augusto Aguilera). The cartel’s King wants to use Damian as a big, bloody “neon sign” for the streets, so they know what to expect. There are worse things to come. Damian’s body will be taken apart, piece by piece. Some will be delivered to his family. All that will remain are his ears, so he’ll be able to hear life going on around him. In ultimate spite, Damian tells Jesus it was Martin who killed his mother Magdalena. He does end up receiving a quick death after all. Yaritza (Cristina Rodlo) uses her Hanged Man pistol to put a bullet in his brain.
“I feel like two different people”
An utterly vicious episode, from start to finish. This was one of the best and also one of the nastier instalments of Too Old to Die Young. As always, the visuals are out of this world. Refn keeps working on some of the big themes that have been coming out since the beginning of the series, and they get deeper all the time.
Cannot wait to dig into the next episode!
Volume 8: “The Hanged Man” is next.