I am an unapologetic Brad Pitt fan. Pretty much since Thelma & Louise and definitely since Kalifornia. He has fought to play against his stereotype as just another pretty face and has done a phenomenal job of cherry picking roles that keep him perpetually moving forward in his career. He has played good, bad, average, crazy, young, old, tough and even death. He is a far better actor than most give him credit for and I am always hotly anticipating his next role. The trailers for Killing Them Softly really had me intrigued. Brad playing a mob hitman and cleaner that cleans up messy underground situations. Sounded good to me. And from the director of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. I’m all in.
Markie (Ray Liotta) runs a criminal poker ring in Boston. After getting away with orchestrating a heist of his own game, three local criminals decide to hit the poker ring again thinking the blame will automatically shift back to Markie. But Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) are not the brightest bulbs on the tree. When the situation spirals out of control, mob hitman Jackie Cogan (Pitt) is called in to clean up the mess.
Killing Them Softly started out with a bizarre and quirky conversation between Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn’s characters. It wasn’t the straight forward mob movie I was expecting, so I figured I was in for a treat. The next scene was another quirky conversation between two characters. That scene was followed by another conversation and another. As a matter of fact, except for a minute and a half long scene of a hit that I loved, the rest of Killing Them Softly was one pointless conversation after another. The film seemed to be trying so hard to be some kind of hybrid of Quentin Tarantino and The Coen Brothers. But it was really trying hard, so hard it was painstakingly obvious. By the time the movie ended with a very unsatisfying final scene, I was bored to tears by the ‘edgy and quirky’ dialogue that so heavily populates the movie. The film takes place during the 2008 presidential election and in many of the scenes the speeches from the participants of that election are played in the background, be it on a TV in the room or on a radio. I am sure there is some sort of parallel to be drawn between the election and the story of Killing Them Softly, but I sure as hell didn’t see anything that was worth me investing any thought into it. Maybe it went over my head but I doubt it. I think Killing Them Softly was just a bad wannabe movie. And that’s just too bad.
The Blu-ray from Alliance is one good looking movie. Director Andrew Dominik certainly knows the technical side of things as the film looks fantastic. Blacks are nice and deep, detail and clarity are excellent and the sound is solid. Even though the majority of the film takes place in dark locations, it never hinders the quality of the transfer. The one hit I referred to loving earlier in this review is by far the highlight of the movie and is worthy of multiple viewings. But if you just went in, watched the minute long scene then turned the movie off, all you would be missing are some conversations between some people about nothing in particular. Now it’s in your hands.
Available March 26, 2013 on Blu-ray and DVD.