Review: Killing Them Softly

THE SETUP: If you’re going to rob mobsters, you better be good at your job. If not, the hit man (Brad Pitt) who comes after you probably will be.

THE THOUGHTS:  I’m a fan of mob movies, especially those that really dig into the characters behind the violence. Goodfellas is a great example. Pulp Fiction would be another. I wouldn’t say Killing Them Softly ranks among those flicks but it does bring something to the table. When it does decide to get violent, it’s pretty unflinching. There’s a scene where a guy gets “teachable moment” beat down and it’s pretty tough to watch. As it should be, of course. Any other bits of violence are either VERY stylized or they kind of sneak up on you, to pretty impressive affect. But, where this movie really focuses its time is on the long discussions between the guys that live in this filthy, little world. It’s the great exchanges between Brad Pitt’s “why can’t it be simple” hit man and Richard Jenkins’ corporate crime middleman or the long bouts of complaining from James Gandolfini’s character, that are the reason to check this movie out.

There is also a time-capsule feeling in the movie, as you constantly hear Obama and McCain discussion on TVs and radios in the background. The director/writer Andrew Dominik is trying to give a sense of the rough economic climate of the time and that it’s impact is felt even on the criminals. Yeah, didn’t do anything for me. I think he did just fine with the cinematography and locations. Actually, the political/economic angle really didn’t do anything for the story until the very end. Interesting, but not overly necessary.

3 stars – good movie, take a friend.  For a mob flick, there’s a lot of talking rather than doing. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the build up to the action and better understanding of the characters, but overall it wasn’t that impactful or memorable. If you like Brad Pitt more as an actor than a leading man, check out this recent blog.

Random Recommendations
The Visitor (2007) – I love me some Richard Jenkins. He’s probably best known as the dad from Six Feet Under but he’s been popping up in films since 1985 (that would be Silverado). He doesn’t usually get a chance to be the star of anything but if this movie is any indication, maybe he should do more. It’s the story of a professor learning to get out of his comfort zone after meeting a couple living in his apartment.

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