Killing Them Softly
Killing Them Softly
(Andrew Dominik, 2012)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: Owing plenty to America's harsh 70s cinema, 'Killing Them Softly' is the grittiest credit-crunch thriller around.
'Killing Them Softly' feels about 40 years old, right at place alongside brutal crime thrillers of the 70s like 'The Friends of Eddie Coyle', 'Taxi Driver', 'The French Connection' and 'Serpico'. If 'Drive' was this generation's ultimate 80s throwback, 'Killing Them Softly' is in the running for the 70s granite and leather crown. And that's no bad thing.
It doesn't reveal itself to the audience easily though, thanks to a sledgehammer delivery of political commentary on the 2008 US election that runs alongside the film, somewhat jerkily.
But let's start at the beginning. Here's the plot: Well-liked mobster Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta) organises the robbery of his own card game and gets away with it. When the dust settles in post-hurricane, mid-credit crunch New Orleans, he admits it was him, but is given a pass - no harm no foul. Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola) gets onto the wise idea to rob his next poker game and everyone will think Markie did it again, so he recruits two losers (Ben Mendelsohn & Scott McNairy) to do the deed. Cue one of cinema's most tense heists.
Now enter Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt). He's above all this. He's been hired by a middle man (Richard Jenkins) from the cash-strapped local mob who are incapable of making decisions thanks to their ineffectual, penny-pinching business model. Cogan has to tie up loose ends and isn't helped by a fellow hitman (an Oscar worthy supporting turn from James Gandolfini) who has fallen from grace, hitting booze and women with ease but falling short of his paid-for targets by a mile.
As is typical with the mob sub-genre, the plot takes its twists and turns which director Andrew Dominik (who previously guided Pitt in 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford') hands well, making each character feel both human and also dangerously expendable.
Dominik's style is staggering. A heroin trip and a beating scene are unforgettable, as his cocktail of musical styles that include rough, bleak country (Johnny Cash's 'The Man Comes Around') and jazz vocal dance hall standards ('(It's Only A) Paper Moon'). At the forefront is Pitt, who puts in a remarkable performance that plays to his strength and adds new range to his CV (can this really be the same guy who was in 'Inglourious Basterds', 'The Tree of Life' and 'Moneyball' within the space of two years?).
After its 90 minutes whiz by 'Killing Them Softly' doesn't feel as epic or majestic as 'Jesse James' did. Instead it arrives and departs like a blunt trauma to the back of the head - it'll either shock you into a reaction or leave you out cold.
The fantastic theatrical trailer for 'Killing Them Softly' is HERE at Cinemas Online.
Other film news
The 'Taken' franchise has undergone a reboot of sorts. Not only does the title of the third film ('Tak3n') not make any sense, the film series has now scrapped the key kidnapping plot hook that sustained the first two pictures in favour of an innocent-man-on-the-run story instead.
Action hero and oscar nominee Liam Neeson has signed on to Seth MacFarlane's 'Ted 2', the sequel to the massive comedy hit.
While lots of casting rumours turn out to be false, this one turned out true. Joining 'True Detective' for its highly anticipated second season is 'In Bruges' Golden Globe winner Colin Farrell.
George Clooney's crowded trophy cabinet is set to see a new addition: the 'Syriana' and 'Argo' double Oscar winner is set to receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Golden Globes at the 2015 ceremony.
'Django Unchained' co-star Daniele Watts made the headlines recently when she was pictured crying alongside a police officer having been detained. She and her partner claimed on their Facebook pages that the 'racist' LAPD assumed that she was a prostitute and he her client prompting them to demand her ID to which she refused as she deemed her right. However, the full story may have more to it...
'Avengers Assemble' star and Oscar nominated 'The Kids Are Alright' actor Mark Ruffalo has revealed that he has actively campaigned for a role in the new 'Star Wars' film - regardless of how minor the part may be.
Oscar nominated director David Fincher is teaming up with one of crime fiction's most renowned writers - David Fincher - for a new HBO series.
Oscar winning actor and producer George Clooney will direct 'Hack Attack' - a film drama about the British phone hacking scandal that targeted celebrities, politicians and royalty.
Carried to her grave in a mahogany casket by six pallbearers, Rivers was laid to rest in New York city - the place where he storied career took off.
Following a reported massive Apple iCloud attack, hackers have leaked numerous images of celebrities including Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence.
Television's biggest night, the Emmy Awards, was dominated by the swansong of 'Breaking Bad'. Stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn took home awards while the show itself won the big one for Best Drama Series. On the comedy side of things, 'Modern Family' won yet again.
Richard Attenborough, the multi-Oscar winning filmmaker and character actor, has died aged 90.
Veteran 'Harry Potter' franchise director David Yates ('Order of the Phoenix', 'Half-Blood Prince' and both parts of the 'Deathly Hallows' finale) will return for the forthcoming spin-off trilogy.
Lawrence Tureaud, or as the world knows him: Mr T, recently reported for jury duty in Chicago.
Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence is now reportedly in a relationship with Coldplay singer Chris Martin, according to E! Online.
In the wake of the devastating shock suicide of Robin Williams' suicide, the comic and Oscar winning dramatic actor's wife has released a statement.
If any of you have seen the 2002 documentary 'Lost in La Mancha', you'll know just how much director Terry Gilliam has struggled to bring his film 'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote' to the big screen. Ill cast members and set destruction led to his Johnny Depp-led nearest attempt being scrapped before shooting could be completed, but now it looks like the 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' filmmaker will get another shot.
'Terminator: Genisys' is coming. And that's not a typo.
Oscar winner Jon Voight isn't happy. In fact he's 'more than angry'. The 'Mission Impossible' and 'Coming Home' star has given fellow Oscar winning actors Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem a dressing down in an opinion piece he wrote for The Hollywood Reporter.
Film studio Lionsgate has launched legal action against the online pirates who shared a high-quality copy of 'The Expendables 3' weeks before its official release.