Killing Them Softly

  • Year:2012
  • Rating:MA
  • Director:Andrew Dominik
  • Cast:James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Brad Pitt, Sam Shepard
  • Release Date:October 11, 2012
  • Distributor:Hoyts
  • Running time:97 minutes
  • Film Worth:$19.50
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

A blisteringly original take on the American crime movie that’s as thrilling as it is sobering.

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Australian writer/director, Andrew Dominik, is not exactly the most prolific filmmaker, but if your only three films in twelve years are Chopper, The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, and now Killing Them Softly, there’s obviously something to be said for taking your time when it comes to making movies. While Dominik’s debut stands tall as a bona fide Aussie cult classic, and his second artfully redefined the western for a modern audience, his third effort is a strikingly original and quietly hypnotic reassembly of the American crime movie. Adapted from the dialogue-heavy 1974 novel, Cogan’s Trade, by renowned crime author, George V. Higgins, Killing Them Softly ingeniously has it both ways, working as both a straight-up yarn, and also as a scathing indictment of the avarice curdling The American Dream. It’s small in scale, but big on ideas, and Killing Them Softly points once again to Andrew Dominik’s boldness and fearlessness as a filmmaker.

When bottom-feeding junkies, Russell (Ben Mendelsohn in a filthy, eye popping turn) and Frankie (talent-to-watch, Scoot McNairy), rob a mob-controlled poker game, it throws the criminal underworld into a spin. With a big pile of money gone, and their power threatened, the criminal powers-that-be bring in enforcer, Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt is typically terrific), to clean up the mess.

Boasting blistering performances (James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta are compelling in alarmingly against-type roles), wonderfully profane dialogue, and lots of black humour, Killing Them Softly is a strange beast of a film. Though punctured by moments of ugly but poetically designed violence, this is mainly a film about guys talking a blue streak and trying desperately to get ahead...no matter what the cost. It’s America in microcosm, and it’s absolutely stunning to witness.

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