While there is a lot in this movie that would make your jaw drop, Killing Them Softly is not particularly likeable. Heavily inspired by the Scorsese, Tarantino School with talky mobsters in cars and bars and shocking, sickening casual violence, the movie is based on George V. Higgins 1974 novel, Cogan’s Trade . Writer-director Andrew Dominik has updated the movie, setting it against the backdrop of Obama’s historic campaign and victory in 2008. While it is fascinating to watch the juxtaposition of campaign speeches and talk of enforcers, after a point the effect wears thin and begins to pale. The sound mixing is pure genius and there are some lovely ballads on the soundtrack making for a yummy sound scape.
The film looks super stylish and is made with love which seeps out of every frame. The rain, slo mo and close ups of the trajectory of a bullet have a mesmeric, intrinsic poetry. The drug use scene is scarily realistic and the conversation after shooting up is on the right side of trippy. Two dope heads decide to rob a high stakes poker game.
Unfortunately the game is mob protected and enforcer Jackie Cogan enters the scene.
He sets things right his way not before one of the most brutal beatings on screen (a strong stomach is recommended) and a lot of talk from burnt out hit men, hookers, hopheads and the telly.
The cast is all round brilliant. Brad Pitt is all grungy with leather (hopefully faux) jacket and slicked back hair as Cogan. Ray Liotta as the unfortunate Markie looks an older beat up version of Henry Hill from Scorsese’s Goodfellas. James Gandolfini continues in his Sopranos avatar as Mickey the hitman who drinks too much. Quentin Tarantino has a lot to answer for in making street thugs speak like a cross between Socrates and Adam Smith. When Brad Pitt’s Cogan says “America is not a country, it is a business”, you want to say enough already!
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Killing Them Softly
Cast:Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz, Anthony Katagas
Plot:A mob protected poker game is robbed and an enforcer has to set things right
Bottomline:If stylish movies with talky thugs and brutal violence are your thing, then this film is for you