film reel image

film reel image

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Killing Them Softly 2012 * * Stars

Director: Andrew Dominik
Year: 2012
Rated R
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta

Killing Them Softly is one those movies that even almost a year since its release, I'm still trying to figure out why it got made, how it was able to get made, and why would anyone want to make it. Its director Andrew Dominik, from what I found out in an interview, actually said that his film was sort of a comedy. We'll it is about as comedic as the movie Platoon (1986). In all honesty, Killing Them Softly is dour, depressing, and the cinematic equivalent of an oil sludge. It has a minimal amount of plot because some of the plot holes are the size of craters on the moon. Added to that, you have James Gandolfini (I kinda thought he was an important part of the story) enter the proceedings with two 5-10 minutes scenes only to be never be heard from again. Oh and I almost forgot, Sam Shepard, a well known actor, inhabits about 30 seconds of screen time without any lines of dialogue. Huh? In truth this film has other characters you feel sorry for and don't care about at the same time (not easy to pull off but nevertheless this is not a compliment). And believe it or not, what's on screen is based on a novel (Cogan's Trade by George V. Higgins). With 97 minutes of virtually nothing of real importance, I'm sure that it must have been one epic novel.

Now I would never give a movie zero stars because well, I've never made one and I'm sure it's very hard work. I usually give a review a minimum of 1 star. With this one, I'll throw in another because the performances are pretty decent (especially Brad Pitt, who tends to give good performances in bad movies). His character Jackie Cogan, is a philosophical hit man who has to off a couple of guys that rob a Mob protected card game. He's gets the OK from Driver (Richard Jenkins, a mafia diplomat) and proceeds to also implicate another hit man to help out with the job (Mickey Fallon, played with schizophrenic void by James Gandolfini). That's basically the whole movie. Everything in between is conversations between 1-3 actors (usually most of the scenes are between two). This gives Killing Them Softly an empty, shut out feeling. Some movies succeed with a "behind closed doors" ramification. This is not one of them. As a viewer myself, I felt a sense of solitude and possibly needed to see a psychiatrist (you know I'm kidding).

Despite many of its shortcomings, I can honestly say that it was however, well shot. And Dominik seems to love to use special lenses. They highlight the images of a drug addicted haze through the eyes of some of the characters. This is done before they commit their crimes or get killed. But really what's the point. If there is any message to convey from all of this, it's explained in TV images throughout the film of Obama preaching out to the world during what I guess is the 2008 Presidential election. That's not enough for me. And I sure based on the box office take for Killing Them Softly, other moviegoers felt the same way. At the end of the film, Pitt utters the line, "America is not a country, it's just a business. Now pay me." That's sound advice. I wish I could go back in time when I saw this movie at the theater. I'd tell the manager at the box office that he or she needs to pay me to see this dud.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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