Killing Them Softly: But Killing Them Nevertheless—Movie

Killing Them SoftlyThere is nothing soft about “Killing Them Softly”…not the dialogue or the action. That is not a bad thing.  

“Killing Them Softly” is set in 2008 New Orleans and is the story of what happens when two criminals (Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy–sensational in some of the movie’s best scenes) rob a mobster poker game run by Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta). Following the heist, Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is called in by mob henchman Driver (Richard Jenkins) to find out who was responsible and  to “clean-up” the situation.

 Written and directed by Andrew Dominik, “Killing Them Softly” is based on George V. Higgins’ 1974 novel, “Cogan’s Trade.” The film’s crackling dialogue is so terrific it takes on the importance of a significant co-star. In fact, it’s nearly 30 minutes before Pitt appears on screen, but the set-up to his arrival is so well-thought out and spoken, you barely notice.

 That is not to say there is no action. There is and most of it is brutal, with poor Liotta bearing its brunt. In this one film, he gets beaten up more by various sets of fists than most actors do in a host of movies. When he does get to speak, he is great and begs the question, “Why haven’t we seen more of him?”

 All the actors…and this is an all male cast, save for one hooker, are terrific. James Gandolfini as a hapless paid-for-hire killer makes the most of his brief, but important scene with Pitt as does Jenkins.

 And what of Brad Pitt? He is the movie’s linchpin and he is fabulous (actually, someone who can say the Chanel dialogue and make it seem like he knows of what he’s speaking has to be a good actor). He is convincingly believable as a killer who might have read Nietzsche.

 It’s hard to know why some movies do better than others. If you are a fan of great dialogue and terrific actors, coupled with some violence, then “Killing Them Softly” is not to be missed.

 3 out of 4 nuggets



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