I Saw A Film Today… Killing Them Softly

killingthemsoftlyGoing in to each movie is a different experience. Sometimes you know what you’re getting, like a Adam Sandler comedy, or what I like to call “An Hour and A Half of Suicidal Thoughts”. Then there are films like Killing Them Softly, where you don’t really know what you’re getting. You know aspects, like that it’s going to be dark, gritty, and violent. But you never know if this is something truly worth watching or if it is over-hyped trash.

During the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election season, A mob run poker game is knocked over by two masked gunmen in a drab post-Katrina New Orleans. Or maybe it’s just a nameless southern city. The fact that this is actually set in New Orleans is never acknowledged in the film. Interpret what you will from that.

The game that was knocked over was being run by Markie (Ray Liotta), who years ago was running another game, got greedy, and hired men to knock it over… then was dumb enough to brag about it. There is the Catch-22 of this conundrum: Everyone knows Markie has robbed from them before, but there is no way someone could be as dumb as to do it a second time.

The mod decides to call in their fixer Jackie (Brad Pitt) to look into the situation. Eventually he finds out that two nobodies (Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn) and someone named “Squirrel” (Vincent Curatola) actually set up the heist. But it doesn’t matter, Markie still has to go. Along with the other three. Hey, that’s life.

I love this genre of film, the crime genre. The inside look at the in and outs of the criminal life, no emphasis on the legitimacy of the events. It’s a life that is so different from the average person, and yet quite similar at the same time. Killing Them Softly is an interesting if not subdued addition into this genre.

Andrew Dominik directs a film that is stripped down, basic and doesn’t add a lot of extras. It’s simply a story, one that arises with a conflict and ends with a resolution. That’s it. While it has moments of tense and stylized shot scenes of violence, Killing Them Softly relies more heavily on the conversations that lead up to the action than the action itself. Although some of these conversations are a bit long, unnecessary, and dull.

This movie was Brad Pitt’s from the beginning, even with this ensemble cast of talented men. And I do mean men. From recollection the only woman who comes to mind is a hooker who appears for maybe one minute. Maybe Dominik is trying to say this is a man’s world. Or maybe having a woman in this film would get in the way of business. Regardless, the lack of estrogen is noticeable. Anyways, back to what I was saying earlier: Pitt really shines in this film, if you can say shine about such a drab and dark film.

One of the few real problems with this film, and more noticeably this genre as a whole, is trying to keep everyone and their name together. I didn’t realize Richard Jenkins character was named Driver until about three-fourths of the way through. But once you get past the confusion, which is easy, you just enjoy the performance. Most notably from James Gandolfini.

Killing Them Softly is a film without a set pace, but is it entertaining. It’s a film that strip the fabric of America to the basics using an antidote about organized crime, which has it problems much like the economy, in a post-Bush country, making its tag line all the more relevant. Maybe that’s the message of the film. Or not.

Verdict: SEE IT!

* Rated R for violence, sexual references, pervasive language, and drug use. 97 minutes.

** Poster by Midnight Marauder. Check his work out.

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One Response to “I Saw A Film Today… Killing Them Softly”

  1. bdgill12 Says:

    If only this movie was half as good as that poster is.

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