Killer of a crime thriller
THE title, like the movie itself, is brutally ironic.
Killing Them Softly is out to slay its audience with a sustained attack of heavy hitting.
Drop your defences at any time, and it could be lights- out for you. This dark, menacing and black- hearted crime drama is not here to win friends. It is here to leave bruises. And worse.
However, Killing Them Softly is in no way a dumb, deranged thump- fest.
The ferocity and malice of its violence – shocking as it can be – frames part of a bigger picture with something to say about modern American life.
Loosely based on the George Higgins novel Cogan’s Trade, Killing Them Softly takes place in New Orleans ahead of the 2008 presidential election.
In the background, there is almost always a TV or radio on, with Obama and Bush rambling about their plans to solve America’s problems.
The characters in Killing Them Softly never stop to listen. They know there’s no quick fix for the broken nation.
There’s no such thing as making a difference. Only making a buck.
Brad Pitt portrays the epitome of this philosophy, a veteran hitman named Jackie Cogan.
He specialises in cleaning up the mess left by the dirty work of others. If Jackie can’t do the job himself, he’ll soon outsource it. He’s efficient like that. The film takes a slow, and by no means scenic, route through Jackie’s latest assignment. Two druggie small- time crooks ( played by Scoot McNairy and an eerily out- of- it Ben Mendelsohn) have robbed a big- time card game run by Markie ( Ray Liotta).
Those who lost their dough on the night in question want it back, and they want it yesterday.
They want the revenge ledger squared. And if Markie has anything to do with it, they want him iced as well.
Jackie methodically assesses the pros and cons of the case, then brings in a specialist ‘‘ finisher’’ ( James Gandolfini) to achieve the right result.
As directed by Australian Andrew Dominik ( a proven master of the crime genre with his still- stunning 2000 debut work Chopper), Killing Them Softly is at once a disarming and disillusioning experience.
While the aggression on screen undoubtedly gets in your face at the time of viewing, there is also a cynical honesty that plays on your mind for some time afterwards.
Now showing State Cinema
CYNICAL HONESTY: Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy play small- time crooks; and ( above) Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini are hitmen in the heavy- hitting film.