REVIEW: KILLING THEM SOFTLY
SYNOPSIS: Three dumb guys who think they’re smart rob a Mob protected card game, causing the local criminal economy to collapse. Brad Pitt plays the enforcer hired to track them down and restore order. KILLING THEM SOFTLY also features Richard Jenkins (THE VISITOR), James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos”), Ray Liotta (NARC), Scoot McNairy (MONSTERS), Ben Mendelsohn (ANIMAL KINGDOM), and Vincent Curatola (“The Sopranos”). Max Casella, Trevor Long, Slaine and Sam Shepard also make appearances. KILLING THEM SOFTLY is written for the screen and directed by Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), and is based on the George V. Higgins novel, “Cogan’s Trade.” Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz, and Anthony Katagas produced the film, with Roger Schwartz, Matthew Budman, Will French, and Douglas Saylor Jr. serving as co-producers. Director of photography Greig Fraser, and production and costume designer Patricia Norris led the creative behind-the-camera team. Casting for KILLING THEM SOFTLY was handled by Francine Maisler, and Brian A. Kates, A.C.E., served as editor. Executive producers are Megan Ellison, Marc Butan, Bill Johnson, Jim Seibel, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Adi Shankar and Spencer Silna.
Cogan: They cry, they plead, they beg, they piss themselves, they cry for their mothers. It gets embarrassing. I like to kill 'em softly. From a distance.
Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt), the head enforcer of this picture, actually has scruples if you can believe that. He is cold, calculated, methodical, and effective, but he has his preferences as far as how to kill. He prefers to avoid the emotional response of the target so as not to get wrapped up in all that mushy stuff. This movie is dark and eerie, taking place in dirty big old town U.S.A. with characters being transported around in big old cars. The weather is always rainy, or at least overcast. So is the overall mood. Set in late 2008, the background is filled with the Obama / McCain campaign talk. Underlying message here perhaps? Perhaps. This story is a bad guy vs. bad guy romp so you get to pick your favorite bad guy to root for. Kind of reminds me a little of how the Joker took on the mob in The Dark Knight, or even Porter taking on the syndicate in Payback. Those movies were fun thrillers. This one is also a thriller but just not as fun. This can be good or it can be bad. It’s good from an artistic aspect in that it is different from your typical mainstream movies of this genre. It has more of an independent film feel to it. This is also bad because it might not sit well with mainstream movie watchers who might be expecting more. This could hurt in the box office, but hey, movie making is not all about the box office . . . sometimes . . . rarely. What this movie IS about is the acting and the characters, and some good cinematography too. There is no doubt the drama aspect of the film is well done with good performances from a talented cast working with a solid script. Oh yeah, now I remember, it also reminds me a bit of Reservoir Dogs, yeah, that’s it. It can be slow at times with a good amount of story telling amongst the characters. There was one thing that was also slow that really stood out and that was one of the kills in the movie. It’s in super slow mo and boy was it cool, unlike anything I can remember seeing before.
Among the performances, as you would imagine, Brad Pitt pretty much steals the show whenever he’s on the screen. He is on his game as usual. James Gandolfini also gives a powerful performance with his smaller role. The one that disappoints me the most is Ray Liotta not for his performance but for his character. I did not like him cast for that role. It just doesn’t match him. He gave a good performance nonetheless, but the Ray Liotta I know from movies almost always plays a tough, tough guy and this particular tough guy is wimpy at best. The movie is not completely dull; it will make you at least smirk. There is one scene that involves someone being strongly coerced to “get in the car” only to shortly afterward being strongly coerced to “get out of the car”. Isn’t that just the way life is sometimes? Writer/Director Andrew Dominik has done a fine job with this production (only his third) and is really establishing himself. This is a well made movie, just don’t expect a mainstream film.
By Cine Marcos
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