Film Review “Killing Them Softly”

Starring: Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins and James Gandolfini
Directed by: Andrew Dominik
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 37 mins
The Weinstein Company

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I’m sure it sounded like a great idea. You do a movie about the mob, throw in the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression then cast top notch actors like Brad Pitt and Ray Liotta. But you forgot to check the script. What do you do, hot shot? WHAT DO YOU DO?

It’s several weeks before the 2008 Presidential Election and the economy is bad for everyone. Even the petty thieves are down on their luck. Two of them – Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) – are about to try to change it. They’ve learned from their friend Squirrel (Vincent Curatola, probably best known as “The Sopranos” Johnny Sack) about a high stakes card game being hosted by local hood Markie Trattman (Liotta). It seems that some time ago Trattman arranged for one of his games to be robbed. The guys figure if it gets robbed again those inconvenienced will assume Trattman was up to his old shenanigans and he’ll be the one held responsible. They’re right. But they’re also wrong.

Visually interesting with some fine performances, “Killing Them Softly” suffers from a script that can best be described as Quentin Tarantino meets Kevin Smith. All of the fancy overlapping dialogue is there, with just a bit of raunch thrown in to make it interesting. Sometimes. The three top names seem committed to the story, though. Pitt is fun to watch as Jackie, a hit man brought in to correct the current situation. With his hair slicked back and goatee he bears more than a slight resemblance to the late Robert Goulet. If he can sing I may have just found his next project. As the mob lawyer trying to have things done under budget (he insists that any hit man flying in fly coach) Jenkins is his usual dry self. As a fellow hit man dealing with marital problems Gandolfini runs the gambit of emotions.

Writer/director Dominik previously gave us “Chopper” (where we first met a bad-ass Eric Bana) and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (which also starred Pitt). With the exception of some fine visual effects he takes a step back here.

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