'Killing Them Softly' Movie Reviews: Brad Pitt Shines
Andrew Dominik's dark film about low life and the mob debuted in theaters this weekend.
"Killing Them Softly" is the latest in a long line of movies showing the relationship between the mafia and business. In this case, the year is 2008, and business is bad, but the film isn't--it's an entertaining adaptation of a George Higgins book. Higgins had a fantastic ear for dialogue, and this movie focuses on a yacky group of low lifes in a city that could be New Orleans or Boston.
Have you seen the film? Leave your review in the comments below.
When two small-time criminals (Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn) rob a mafia-protected poker game run by Markie (Ray Liotta), the local mob boss (Richard Jenkins) hits hit man Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) to right the wrong. He, in turn, brings in his associate Mickey (James Gandolfini) to help out.
Here's what the critics are saying:
"Killing Them Softly" is a lurid and nasty little nihilistic hitman thriller, with an ingenuity that sneaks up on you. It’s the first movie directed by Andrew Dominik since "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford". Once again, he has cast Brad Pitt as a low-key, gimlet-eyed sociopath, and once again, the screen vibrates.
On paper, there isn’t much to the plot of "Killing Them Softly". The real drama lies in how these outrageously talky lowlifes keep sizing each other up: the back-and-forth scuzziness, the obscenity dancing on the knife-edge of violence. This is Scorsese land, Tarantino land, David Mamet land and David Chase land, and so you've got to be damn good to play their game. Andrew Dominik, it turns out, is that good. Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly, for NY1
Writer-director Andrew Dominik directed Pitt in 2007’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” Adapting a ’70s novel by George V. Higgins, the author of “The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” Dominik lays the commentary on lightly. It’s even unnecessary at times. As political slogans about “one America” play on barroom TVs and shout from billboards, the violence, empty streets and shady dealings show another reality.
Pitt, entering his third decade of fame, continues to show how there was always a deadly serious actor in him all along. Worn out but with an underlying humanity and work ethic — the title refers to how he does his hits — Pitt makes Jackie a scruffily generous soul. Beside him, Gandolfini nicely plays up the sad-sack shlumping of a big man laid low. Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News
In all the gritty confusion of the film, Pitt's Jackie is the constant voice of reason. While his last big at-bat, "Moneyball," was a far better movie, there is an effortlessness here in the way Pitt turns small scenes into defining moments. Somehow he just keeps getting better at it (we're choosing to ignore those ghastly Chanel ads since "Saturday Night Live" has handled that skewering so perfectly).
A quintessential Pitt moment is the day Jackie first comes face to face with one of his quarry. Frankie — raw, rough, unrefined — is everything Jackie is not. When Pitt's cool-hand Luke sidles up next to him in a diner and starts making small talk, the sun may be shining but you know the day is going to get darker soon. To Jackie, killing, as well as conversation, comes softly, and like Frankie, we're never sure which it will be. Betsy Sharkey, LA Times
The title refers to a cliched romantic notion of Jackie's approach to his job — nice and easy, exemplified by a key killing depicted by Dominik as a gorgeous slowmotion blur of shattered glass, flying bullets and aesthetic perfection. A little of this creamy slaughter goes a long way. Some of the dialogue in "Killing Them Softly" bonks! you right on the schnozz. The thesis line, spoken by Jackie, couldn't be more direct in its opinion of a land on the verge of defaulting on everything in sight. "America," he says, "is not a country. It's a business." And Americans aren't making what they used to. Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"Killing Them Softly" is rated R, for graphic violence, profane language, sex scenes and references and depictions of drug use. (What else do you expect from a mob movie?) Run time is 97 minutes. The movie is playing in Athens at Beechwood Cinemas 11 and Carmike Cinema 12.
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