Killing Them Softly starts off with Johnny Amato, played by Vincent Curatola (The Sopranos, Meet the Mobsters), planning a robbery of an organised mob poker game with the intention of framing the guy who runs it, Markie Trattman, played by Ray Liotta (Youth in Revolt, Smokin’ Aces, Goodfellas). To carry out the robbery Johnny hires Frankie and Russell, played by Scoot McNairy (Monsters, In Search of a Midnight Kiss) and Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises, Killer Elite, Knowing) respectively. After they pull it off it’s understandable that the mobsters are more than a little miffed. This is where Jackie, played by Brad Pitt (Inglorious Basterds, Ocean’s 13, Fight Club), comes in. He’s hired by the mobsters to fix the mess by killing who’s responsible, but when they discover Markie didn’t actually rob the poker game things get a little bit more complicated.
As expected for the stellar cast, the acting in this is top class with brilliant performances from everyone involved especially Ray Liotta whose character I genuinely empathized with. I went in to Killing Them Softly with high hopes from the enticing trailer and A-list actors, but those hopes soon faded. The movie got off to what I thought was a slow start, but I now realize that set the pace of the whole movie. Unfortunately for Killing Them Softly movies can’t be entirely judged on just the actors performances. Aside from one or two good looking slow motion scenes, the rest of the film is a bit of a mess.
The story is the main crux of this uninteresting film. For a movie that’s an hour and a half long nothing much happens. The basic story I mentioned above is about it, with the exclusion of who gets killed and a few non-pivotal characters. There’s meant to be a sociopolitical undertone to it about the mobs financial situation, but it’s done in a stupid and uninteresting way. The only real acknowledgements they give to the sub-story are a few TVs in the background playing the Obama vs. McCain presidential race and Jackie mentioning his frustration with it right at the end. The slow pacing of the movie just emphasizes how poorly written and/or directed Killing Them Softly is. Attention is drawn to scenes where nothing really happens, and one character in particular that has no actual reason to be in the story other than waste time.
I’m not sure if Killing Them Softly is uninteresting because it’s poorly directed, has a poorly written script, is a bad adaptation, or any other reason you can think of, but it’s quite clear that it’s not a good film. It’s only saving graces are the great acting and a couple of well captured slow motion scenes. Unfortunately that’s not enough to make it great.
Killing Them Softly is based on the novel Cogan’s Trade.
In Theaters: UK 21st September 2012/US 30th November 2012
Runtime: 1 hours 37 minutes
Rating: R (for violence, sexual references, pervasive language and some drug use)
Director: Andrew Dominik
Cast: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Official Site: http://killingthemsoftlymovie.com/
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