So what did RAMA think of KILLING THEM SOFTLY?
Make way for writer/director Andrew Dominik because he’s crafted my favorite gangster film this year. KILLING THEM SOFTLY entertains us softly and surely. It speaks to us fans of Tarantino and Guy Ritchie’s crime comedies. Brad Pitt is perfect as hitman Jackie Cogan who doesn’t understand how some people do things, who doesn’t understand why his hitman friend becomes unreliable, but Cogan gets the job done…
Based on George V. Higgin’s novel, KILLING THEM SOFTLY stars Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Sam Rockwell, Richard Jenkins, Bella Heathcote, Vincent Curatola, Ray Liotta, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn and Linara Washington, it’s about a professional enforcer, Jackie Cogan (Pitt), who investigates a heist that occurs during a high stakes, mob-protected, poker game.
I spoke with director Andrew Dominik and it’s clear from this film that what he aimed to make is not a crime comedy that has lots of things going on every other five minutes or so, what he made is a crime/gangster comedy where the day seems to drag, things may not happen much for a while and so you spend time with the characters getting high or simply having a conversation inside a car. This is a dialogue-heavy film but I urge you to be sit through it and listen carefully to what they’re talking about because this may well be the best set of on screen conversations since Pulp Fiction. Embedded within the story is a theme of every man for himself, America is business and that when it comes down to it, money talks. Dominik took 1970s George Higgin’s novel, adapted it to the 2008 setting, a time of financial crisis, presidential election and bailout plan, so that setting gives motivation for the heist to cook up and the characters walk through empty streets, and pass by abandoned business places, you can tell that the economy took a huge toll on that town thus forcing its residents to take desperate measures including scheming a card game robbery. Richard Jenkins plays the guy that the mobster sends to get Jackie Cogan to do some clean up.
The many interactions between Jenkins’ character and Jackie Cogan (Pitt) is mostly about how they can come to the same page on how to deal with these few selected characters. Different opinions on the approach is the very thing that makes their interactions intriguing and irresistible. James Gandolfini plays Mickey, an old timer hitman, an old friend of Cogan’s, who was brought in to help out but Mickey turns out to be a loose canon, his personal problem and emotional breakdown keeps him from focusing and it weights even heavier on Cogan who vouches for him. So Cogan decides to take matters into his own hands. You’ll get treated with two great sequences that stand out, the opening sequence that incorporates President Obama’s speech soundbyte fading in and out, and the sequence of the death of Ray Liott’s character, it’s shot in a very beautiful, visually stunning manner, you can’t take your eyes off of it.
KILLING THEM SOFTLY is a smartly written, smartly acted, great little gangster/crime comedy that demands to be watched.
GRADE: 5 out of 5
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