The Brilliance Behind Killing Them Softly

MPAA Rating: R
Run Time: 97 mins
Common Sense Rating: 17+

“America is not a country, it’s a business.”
– Jackie Cogan
(Brad Pitt)

During the American economic crisis in the fall of 2008, a mastermind calls on Frankie, a trusted associate (Scoot McNairy) & Russell (Ben Mendelsohn), an unpredictable drug addict to rob Markie (Ray Liotta), the owner of a criminal poker ring during one of his poker games.

Since these poker games make up a significant amount of the criminal economy, this robbery causes that action should be taken, which comes in the form of a meticulous hitman named Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt). Can the triad of criminals pull off the caper & evade Cogan’s pursuits?

Killing Them Softly has a top notch cast involving Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, and Scoot McNairy was previously seen in Argo. I really enjoyed seeing how much effort these actors put in to their craft. I felt that Pitt and McNairy had the strongest performances throughout the film. Each actor involved truly brought the level necessary that made each character believable

Frankie (Scoot McNairy) & Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) robbing Markie's (Ray Liotta) criminal poker game in progress.

Frankie (Scoot McNairy) & Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) robbing Markie’s (Ray Liotta) criminal poker game in progress.

While the cinematography was a bit distracting in certain instances, it was mostly on point. Sometimes the camera’s framing, angles, & speed beautifully reflected the actions & mood of the onscreen action.

What I most appreciated about this movie was the time period in which it takes place. Having the backdrop of 2008 U.S. election amidst a notorious recession creates a crudely brilliant parallel between the economic backdrop of the time & the movie’s main action, which adds another level of depth to the movie.

In addition to the parallels, the movie’s soundtrack was quite brilliant. There were times that the use of music was very brilliant & even times proved that it should be a mentioned textbook movie for contrapuntal music. This recurring theme & method of storytelling in conjunction with Scorsese like use of music brings added layers to this movie.

"I like to kill them softly... from a distance."- Jackie Cogan

“I like to kill them softly… from a distance.”
– Jackie Cogan

While all of the attributes make Killing Them Softly a unique gangster film, there were a few parts that seemed unnecessary. Some of these flat moments took me completely out of the movie.

Luckily, everything is able to rebound itself in plenty of time for an ending that may upset some, but not me. Since the ending goes along with aforementioned political theme, I’ve loved it.

Since it is a gangster flick, the movie is quite intense in violence, which for some can be hard to watch. Some sequences involve gun violence but also a very brutal beating. There is also some spicy language.

Besides a few dead moments, Killing Them Softly is loaded with great moments whether it be acting, camera work or the unique parallels that it draws. Although it wasn’t in movie theaters long, this movie kills audiences softly with its brilliance & talent. B

Fade to black…


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