Crime Movies, by Mike Richardson, 29 September 2012

Director: Andrew Dominik

Stars: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta and Richard Jenkins

Country: USA

Runtime: 97 min

Release Date:

Language: English

Killing them Softly reunited writer/director Andrew Dominik with producer/star Pitt, five years after their critically adored film The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. The new film is a more crowd pleasing crime yard, but refuses to talk down to the audience. The title comes from Brad Pitt’s killer ethos on hits, ‘I like to kill them softly, from a distance,’ says Pitt, ‘not close enough for feelings. I don’t like feelings.’ Like Dominik’s breakthrough film Chopper (the BEST based on a real criminal crime film) Killing Them Softly takes a grown up look at the business of crime (and murder). The film may be more intellectual than most gangster films , but the sharp dialogue and stunning set pieces are all present and correct which means that the film works for both popcorn munchers and critics alike, Killing Them Softly should do great box office, not just because of the good looks and celebrity of its leading man. It is a million miles away from Guy Ritchie and his mockney quirks, which is a good thing.

Killing Them Softly

Killing Them Softly

Killing them Softly kicks off when two doofus lowlifes rob a mob-protected card game, and an enigmatic enforcer (Brad Pitt) hired by mob middle manager (Richard Jenkins) is set on their case, along with an out of towner, freelance killer (James Gandolfini).

The performances in Killing them Softly are uniformly excellent, not least Brad Bitt as Cogan, bringing a slightly tougher edge to his usual laid-back persona and there is strong support from Ray Liotta and the ever-excellent Jenkins as a mafia middleman, while Gandolfini as a boozy sub- contracted hitman, as good as steals the entire film with a terrific supporting turn that should be a shoe in come oscar season. Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn play the minimum wage, low IQ, low-lifes Frankie and Russell, who rob a card game organised by local gangster Markie (Liotta), thinking that Markie himself will be held responsible as he’d pulled a similar trick in the past.

The script is packed with gritty and smart dialogue that brings out the associations between the onscreen action and the state of America in 2008 (TVs and radios are constantly blaring election reports, discussion about the financial crisis). Killing them Softly sets the gangsters’ economic crisis as a microcosm of US capitalism and Dominik confidently updates George V Higgins’s 1970s novel (known as Cogan’s Trade in book form) to 2008, as a recession-era satire.

Greig Fraser’s murky cinematography giving the film a subtle 1970s feel that works really well combined with a stylish soundtrack that also gives extra kick to some powerful shock moments and big scenes. Killing Them Softly is a pleasingly literate, impressively directed and superbly written film, with terrific performances from a pitch-perfect cast.

Highly recommended.

Killing Them Softly Trailer

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