Directed by Andrew Dominik who’s made only 2 movies prior to this (Chopper and The Assassanation of Jesse James) ‘Killing Them Softly’ is his latest effort, with a large and talented cast to make the story come alive, is it any good?
The answer to that question depends on what kind of viewer you are.
The pace of the movie will be the most often talked about complaint against it, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Brad Pitt has shown the world how versatile an actor he is, and Killing Them Softly has him in the role of Jackie Cogan, a hitman who is hired to solve the robbery of a poker game held by Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta). The interesting part of it is that Markie robbed his own poker game a few years prior so naturally he becomes the suspect.
I’m not spoiling anything when I tell you it was actually done by 2 lowlife thugs called Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) who are hoping that the mob infested poker game will automatically suspect and kill Markie.
This is explained within the first five minutes of the movie, and what follows are the ramifications of the robbery. And this is where pacing comes in to the conversation. Director Dominik takes it’s time to set the stage and characters, with long one shot dialogue scenes and many subtle behaviourisms we get sucked into the very bleak world this takes place in.
Whether it’s a lengthy discussion about fucking a whore, or the long stares between Jackie and his contact Driver (The always great Richard Jenkins), this movie counts on you as a viewer to be patient.
What made the movie stand out to me was the fact that it comes across as real.
Set on the background of Obama becoming president, it serves as a commentary on the current recession and what it would be like to be in crime. Jackie isn’t the glorified, to cool for school, killer that can’t be offed by anyone. He’s just a tough guy trying to survive, just as you and I are.
The fact that he is a hitman isn’t a huge factor but merely a small detail.
So having said that, there are some great scenes which serve as small acting classes of their own.
We get James Gandolfini as ‘New York Mickey’ who is called in to do a hit.
Mr. Gandolfini enjoys worldwide fame for his portrayal of Tony Soprano in the hit tv-show ‘The Sopranos’ but manages to steer away from that image and portray a drunk and low life has-been who is going through the motions.
I greatly enjoy watching talented people act, and this movie is a showcase for every actor involved.
It might not lead to a lot of action or a very stylized gangster movie, but it does show us the real deal.
When the violence does hit, it’s just as realistic as the rest of the story.
It makes a huge impact to see a punch being thrown when it’s thrown within the boundries of a realistic story. I can watch Judge Dredd kill off 25 people in an hour, and it doesn’t resonate with me.
But seeing a guy puking blood and getting his teeth kicked out just to find out if he’s involved in a crime makes all the more impact.
Unfortunately, my viewing in the theatre showed the state of current crowds as there was a lot of moaning and groaning about the lack of action. This isn’t about action, this is about what happens when you decide to lead a life of petty crime and people come hunting for you in real life.
It’s real, its inhabited with great actors, and if you consider yourself a real fan of cinema you owe yourself at least one viewing of this diamond in the rough.
Pacing issues put aside, this is one of the better efforts to create a memorable ‘gangster’ movie and well worth checking out.