May 16, 2014

Review: Killing Them Softly (2012)

Killing Them Softly is basically a combination of a whole bunch of crime TV series or movie films all mashed together. It's pretty slow, plodding and it does a lot of talking. At times it feels like there isn't really anything going on but Killing Them Softly delivers something worthwhile in the end if you give it a chance.

A very strong cast has been assembled here. Brad Pitt brings a dark persona onto the screen and he has help from the always reliable Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, as well as Scoot McNairy among others. I remember Scoot back from Monsters and I really liked his performance here. Gandolfini brings his usual form from The Sopranos and Ray Liotta is basically playing Henry Hill from Goodfellas in a spin-off movie. If you're trying to make a crime movie though, you can't really go wrong with this bunch.


Genre: crime, thriller
Directed by: Andrew Dominik
Produced by: Dede Gardner, Anthony Katagas, Brad Pitt, etc.
Written by: Andrew Dominik
Music by: Jonathan Elia, David Wittman
Running time: 97 minutes
Production company: Plan B Entertainment, 1984 Private Defense Contractors, Annapurna Pictures, etc.
Distributed by: The Weinstein Company, Inferno Distribution, Alliance Films, etc. 
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $15,000,000
Box office: $37,930,465 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Sam Shepard, Slaine, Vincent Curatola, Max Casella, Trevor Long, Linara Washington



The story starts with Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola) contracting Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) and Frankie (Scoot McNairy) to rob a poker ring. It then follows Jackie (Brad Pitt) trying to find those responsible for the hit. There's a lot of talking like I said which can get dull but the dialogue is pretty good all the same if you're listening. It's based off of a novel called Coogan's Trade by George V. Higgins and is probably a very talky book itself.


Personally I find there are some pretty interesting story lines here. The characters are interesting if a little uninspired and there are some really tense moments that make Killing Them Softly worth watching. The heist scene in particular is a great one. Ben Mendelsohn's character Russell is as gross as he is despicable and he is offset by McNairy's character who seems like a decent enough guy. Crime is a black and white thing though without any mercy. Killing Them Softly makes that abundantly clear.

Killing Them Softly also has some interesting things to say about capitalism. It's set during the 2008 US elections with the recession making all the headlines. The movie features lots of footage and soundbites from Barrack Obama and George W. Bush from the time which adds an interesting layer to the film.

Despite the title and seemingly excessive talking, Killing Them Softly is a very violent movie. Not only visually but audibly as well. It's blunt, brutal and to the point as I imagine real murders are. It's not pretty and shouldn't be. The violence here is justified in this case, not just glorified.

Yes, Killing Them Softly has a lot of dialogue but it delivers on its promise. It's a visceral and stylish attempt at creating a good crime/thriller. It's doesn't have the dialogue chops like Pulp Fiction for example but I don't think it's necessarily going for that. KTS holds it own and is worth a watch.



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