Killing Them Softly is a bleak image of America, where corporate mentality as one character puts it, rules everything. Even the films ending points to the fact that America is a business. Its rare a film comes out in the midst of the climate it speaks against or depicts so vividly.
When two tough guys rough up a mobster, the camera pans from the outside of a peaceful home, until the mobster is thrown out of the back door, while the sounds of chaos and violence are heard the whole time.
Russell and Frankie are poor and down-on-their luck, and it is obvious work is hard to come by, even for criminals. Jackie also raises a stink about his payment when hes told he gets recession prices.
The film is unclean and brutal, from vivid sound effects and vicious images of violence and brutality, so it is definitely not for the faint of heart. There is comedy strewn throughout and James Gandolfinis performance as nostalgic, drunk hit man Mickey is great.
Pitt gives a cool and low-key performance, the lone figure in the world that seems to manipulate both sides of the populace, remain calm and work every situation to his advantage, while condemning the system of America and taking advantage of it at the same time.
Dominik doesnt bash one political party in particular with Pitts character thumbing his nose at Obamas acceptance speech in 2008, and the placement of Bushs speeches also seem critical of him as well. There is not so much a political message in Killing Them Softly as there is a view of America as every-man-for-himself.
Jackie says In America, youre on your own, and calls America a business. No character in the film is necessarily memorable, and neither Liotta nor Gandolfini add to their legacies here. While Pitt is slick and cool, his performance doesnt necessarily stand out, as his last trip with Dominik did as Jesse James in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (2007).
The film is an adaptation of George V. Higgins novel Cogans Trade and Domink deserves a lot of credit for his screenplay. The dialogue snaps and exchanges between characters are funny, and natural, with almost every conversation having something real to say, down to Pitts final lines, which wrap everything up in a nutshell.
Killing Them Softly is unsurprisingly a movie for those who can handle the foul language, graphic violence and brutality of a good crime story. It is heavy handed, but Dominiks lack of subtlety worked for me, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Killing Them Softly is rated R with a runtime of 1 hour, 37 minutes.
Editor Patrick Hall may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.