Killing Them Softly Directed by: Andrew Dominik Cast: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini Running Time: 1 hr 37 mins Rating: R Release Date: November 30, 2012
PLOT: A couple of guys rob an underground poker game, so Jackie (Pitt) comes to town to try and restore order to the local criminal economy.
WHO'S IT FOR? Do you like mob movies? Guys who talk big, and carry bigger guns? Do you constantly wish these films would reflect America's economic situation? Yup, this one is for you.
It takes some pretty big balls to be this on the nose with a film's plot, and its timely backdrop. Luckily, in the world of balls, Dominik and Pitt are big ones.
Killing Them Softly is completely blatant, in fact it's so on the nose, that it's elbow deep up the nose, digging for gold and finding bats in the cave.
The film takes place during the end of George W. Bush and the rise of Barrack Obama. It's all about the money. While these local gangsters, mobsters, hit men, and lowlifes are trying to score a quick buck, or restore order once a buck is stolen, you'll hear the politicians. Speeches on what must be done to restore America's economic system permeate the movie, taking momentary control, but then Pitt and company grab it back.
Frankie (McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) think they have a full-proof plan to fill their pockets. They even have Markie (Liotta) ready to take the fall. The problem is, everyone eventually talks, and that brings Jackie to town to clean things up for the bosses. Everything has a tinge of relating to America's big picture, including Jenkins being the go-to with the committee who runs everything from afar. There's also Mickey (Gandolfini) whose marriage is falling apart, and he's more than happy to keep living his version of the good life for as long as possible.
The style and monologues can overtake this film, and while it doesn't always flow, it's a good ride. Pitt had a hell of a performance last time he worked with Dominik with The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. This film is a completely different vibe, and faster pace, and fits right in Pitt's wheelhouse. He gets to play the smart guy in the room, who brings a little more compassion than the typical mobster cleaner. The look of the film is downright dirty. It's mostly grey or raining, but that's nothing compared to the filthy mood Mendelsohn creates. He is the greasiest man to hit the big screen to my knowledge. There is a drug scene that (probably) is spot on, and a slow-motion drive by that is a thing of beauty to look at.
For a film that seems to be saying, "Life sucked, or maybe it still does," I still had a really good time watching it. The completely obvious comparison to the mobster world and our American economic system is a welcome, straight-forward surprise for storytelling. Dominik juggles a couple of balls pretty well here, and when one of them is Pitt, I'm always going to be there to watch.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10