Killing Them Softly (2012) Poster

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A lot of the negative reviewers seem to have completely missed the point
brendan-26811 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
What a lot of the negative reviewers seem to have completely missed about this movie is that it isn't actually a crime movie - instead it's a metaphor for modern America.

That's why the film contains so many political speeches in its background soundtrack - they're meant to be there to draw the link between what is unfolding on the screen and what is happening in the real America today.

This film is rich with different layers of irony; the most obvious of which is the fact that the men being killed are being punished for simply doing what their killers do themselves day in and day out - commit crime and steal from others.

It seems to me that the mafia bosses are symbolic of the politicians who blame the business sector, and then seek to punish them, for what are actually failings of the system that they continue to prop up and exploit for their own ends. And just consider the fact that after killing several men for being thieves, these exact same mafia bosses then try and rob Brad Pitt's character of what he is actually financially entitled to from them.

The reason both Obama and Bush are heard at different times in the film is because we are meant to realize that this problem is not exclusive to either the left or the right, it is about what America, as a whole, has allowed itself to become as a nation. And also to highlight the fact that both left and right have allowed this problem to persist and grow.

Brad Pitt's speech at the end of the film is really the essence of what this film is about - a cynical examination of the death of the American dream and American idealism.

I think that in time this film will come to be more highly regarded as a clever piece of commentary on present day America - and when it is viewed in that light (rather than as a gangster film) it makes much more sense to the viewer.
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Solid, Hero-less, Unsentimental Crime Movie
chase_g17 December 2012
This movie was done in a style that was quite unique from your standard issue shoot 'em up or Scorsese gangster movie in a number of ways I found refreshing. It slowed down the pace of dialogue scenes to a relatable and believable level, made the violence far more realistic, and didn't overdo the music. Those who can't handle too much, or too realistic of violence won't like this movie.

Some might feel the dialogue makes the movie drag just a bit, but if you like realistic filmmaking, they've made it feel as if you're sitting in on actual conversations. The scenes and cuts are long but are livened up with the fairly constant scummy-ness of the characters. James Gandolfini seemed to prattle on a little too much but I suppose that was the point.

The violence can be summed up as unsentimental; much of it can be defined by the difficult achievement of not falling into played out Hollywood clichés. There are no heros in this movie as the director doesn't use cheap tricks, like voiceovers, disproportionate screen time, or happy music to convince you that one criminal is worth rooting for over the others. There is no glorification or demonization of violence, as it is depicted without the influence of music, and the audience can decide for themselves about what is being shown. There are no Schwartzenegger-style shoot outs, as the violence is usually sudden but brutal and loud. Every gunshot is closer to being as loud as real life, so you get a little jolt with every shot like being at a gun range.

The use of music is also played down and important in making both the violence and dialogue distinct. There is some music which gives the movie some energy, but overall far less than the average Hollywood film. This adds an element of suspense as the music doesn't give away what is about to happen in every scene (like a movie with ominous music when something bad is about to happen, etc.). The lack of music also allows the audience a semblance of neutrality in what they are observing; characters are allowed to be likable without being good.

This is the sort of movie you could expect if the hero was removed and you only had the villains and thugs left over--it is far less boring.
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Every review I've read has been wrong
winston910914 December 2012
If you want to watch Scarface - go watch Scarface. This movie isn't. KTS is a 180 from the majority of crime classics and their many copycats.

The factor that clumps most crime genre flicks together is the top-down perspective. For instance, in the Departed it was the rats joining up with the heads of their respective sides of the law - Costello and Queenin. The same with Pauli in Goodfellas, the Don in Godfather.

KTS splits apart because it is a film about crime from the perspective of the prey. The opening shot is a junkie in a cold, wet New Orleans wind, lost in a whirlwind of trash against harsh white sky. This is the view of hopelessness - its also the familiarity of many post-disaster neighborhoods. These characters absorbed into the criminal underworld, not because they are evil, but because they haven't many other options and they're too dumb to know the danger they are in. This is the what KTS communicates to us with the background broadcast of the '08 elections and financial meltdown.

When bullets fly in this film - you feel it, because you feel for the characters, which is why having Cogan as its opaque center is so blisteringly effective. He is pragmatic, unapologetic and a completely objective lens to see through. He is the balance between the corrupt political overcast and slime at the bottom of the barrel.

"America isn't a country. It's a business."

Cogan is the the cleanup for the corporation. He snips the buds, ties up the loose ends. He is the inevitability of the business world.

"They are all nice guys."

The humanization of the characters drains you as one by one they slip into darkness. Cogan's jaws open and you understand that the characters are rats in a labyrinth, they are all gears that will eventually be discarded. The soundtrack rhetoric quite fluidly illuminates the movies' greater statement. With all the economic jargon in a ping-pong propaganda game there are people sleeping out on the streets - and a hungry dog has to eat. And all the way up the food chain, through a shady poker game in the back of some shut-down strip mall, to the podium and our new elected president, everyone is a hungry dog here.

This is a methodical film that takes its time with each individual scene. It plays with time and space, slowing down, drifting in and out and then exploding. Cogan walks through the sparks and smoke, he is our escort in understanding the nature and design of things, and he does with an unforgettable composure.

The elements of the film - acting, cinematography, etc, adapt to its scope and drive, the purpose that the makers sat down and did it. Each end does its job, and considering where you end up there's not much room for improvement in any area. Is it the Godfather? No. But its something completely different, and for what KTS was intending to accomplish, it was excellent.

Don't be deterred by the negative reviews, but don't go in expecting the recycling of Scorsese and Copella. This a picture of its own kind, of its own vision. Let it move you.
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As gritty and grimy as crime heists come!
DanLives198015 March 2013
Yet another great film being given a bad name by "reviewers trying to do us a favour" (really??? like you're a shepherd and we're all sheep here???). If you're going to read a review, here's one that speaks in all fairness and without trying to glorify it.

'Killing Them Softly' is a contemporary multi-narrative crime drama that oversees what crime has become to the mafia since we've seen what years of recession have done to America, post 9/11. It's a film you have to settle into and to watch and listen carefully, yet it provides us with storytelling style very similar to the likes of Quentin Tarantino and classic Danny Boyle.

It also makes good use of some classic conventions and you may notice a little bit of Mean Streets, Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Chopper, Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting etc.

When ex-convict Frankie and his Australian heroin-addict friend Russell are employed to hold up a mafia poker game in their rundown dead end town, they get away with it, though causing the local economy to collapse and putting mob boss Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta) in the frame.

The dons send mob enforcer Jackie (Brad Pitt) over to deal with it and to set an example, he methodically sets about cleaning up in due fashion.

That is the plot, pure and simple, but aside from that, 'Killing Them Softly' is more a film about the bleak, harsh reality of crime in the modern day American towns that the government has all but abandoned and it is therefore about the sheer dead-end desperation of a certain breed of people.

Unemployment, recession, drug addiction, violence, desperation, failing health, wilful self-destruction and the disgusting manner in which people regard each other with - it all adds up to one great stark reality. The only way that the government has succeeded in destroying organised crime is by destroying its own country's economy. Desperate people will do anything to survive knowing that, if they give up, they are as good as dead. And that sets the tone for this movie from beginning to end.

Not surprisingly in hindsight, this film has no real lead characters, but universally supporting characters that serve the story until its bitter ending where we are treated to a summary in words between two characters. This helps to give a sense that nobody is of any real importance to each other, which is true to the nature of most of its characters.

If you like your crime movies real, you'll love this. I'm so surprised at how seamless it is, and also how easy it is to watch despite how well acted and intense it becomes. Dark, gritty, grimy, filthy, absurd, depressing and yet bold with a few good laughs!
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Speak Much...Say Little
LeonLouisRicci24 April 2013
There is more wordplay than gun-play here and it is a Neo-Noir, hard-boiled, unfettered attempt at gritty realism. Some of the extended dialog scenes are pretty good but not quite excellent. There is some rambling and pointless exchanges with little pay-off.

But there are some serious, reality sound bites that give us the same thing. There is that continuous backdrop of Political rambling rhetoric that mirrors the Character's innate ability to speak much and say little.

This is an against the grain try at alternative, smart Cinema with just enough stylized graphic violence to make it obvious that this has Artistic commentary and not Documentary style Cinema Verite on its mind. Overall it is a well done and interesting kind of side-step from the usual whiz-bang editing and shaky Camera stuff that has become so common.

This is slow, bordering at times on tedious, but never a bore. It is well crafted but does not quite reach that level of great Prose transferred to great Film. But it is a good try at a very difficult, rarely achieved process that creates the best of this kind of thing.
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Starts well, then collapses under the weight of its own self satisfaction
Kookyburra3 October 2012
This is a film that looks outstanding. It has that feel of the best seventies cinema. The acting similarly is outstanding but still, a few things stop it from being the stone cold classic it could have been.

The cracks started to show when Cogan(Pitt) has his first talk with Mickey(Gandolfini). It's the latest in a long series of head to heads that play out more like acting master-classes than anything relating to the film. That scene effectively breaks the spell and reminds us that we are watching "good quality acting" combined with "a good script".

The film seems to go off the rails after this. Any charm or involvement is soon stopped by another showy scene from the director who seems more concerned with showing off his film making skills than actually making a good film.

The final thing that jars is Brad Pitt. He had the same effect on Fight Club. Pitt is too big a star for a film like this. He simply doesn't convince as the cynical cold blooded killer. Why would such a man spend that much time on his physical appearance for instance?. A more earthy, hard boiled actor could have made the character believable.

Not a bad film but overbearingly condescending at the finale (which I won't spoil here). The film that went before doesn't earn that pay off and its impact isn't felt on the screen. Which makes the end deeply unsatisfying.

Shame really as with more editing and less egos involved, this could have been so much better.
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A pleasure to watch an intelligent well made movie
pottypat-406-98890916 March 2013
If you are sick of generic clichéd action film making, you will enjoy this unique gem. An actors movie. The superb cast subtly weave a bleak and violent morality tale. Everyone is given beautiful little soliloquies. This drew me into each character, even though they are all without exception unpleasant, I still was able to empathize with them. It was like a modern Shakespeare with the regular TV news and political speechifying in the background as a running commentary on the stories progress. The editing was so good I never noticed it. Thank you to everyone who had a hand in this classic. It is a dark movie and I can imagine its subtle complexities being lost on the great unwashed and washed.
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Yes, They Can Still Make 'Em Like They Used To
Joaquin_Collete24 July 2012
Brad Pitt and Andrew Dominik's fantastic Killing Them Softly has the rigor and grace of the great American crime pictures of the 1970s. A loose adaptation of George V Higgins' great 1974 crime novel Cogan's Trade. A fulfilling elegant and stylish black comedy. The script, acting, direction were all superbly done, and should be commended. Although the film can be very pessimistic, it does have a message, one that should resonate in the near future. The whole cast was extremely effective and highly believable. However Brad Pitt is simply terrific, and deserves much acclaim that could come to him. Just like The Assassination of Jesse James, Pitt plays subtle, but yet powerful sociopath and it ripples the film throughout. James Gandolfini Gandolfini is excellent as a boozy, broken old assassin. Ray Liotta offers a grotesque reprise of the type of manic gangster he played in his younger years in Goodfellas. Richard Jenkins is solemn as ever as the killer's contact, relaying back messages from the Mob and trying to beat Cogan down on prices. All the men here are relentlessly sexist and foul-mouthed.

Dominik shoots the action in a grimy shallow focus and his screenplay is tough as steel and shot through with pessimistic, even black humor. There is no mistaking the fact that Dominik loves his characters, letting their dialogue shine uninterrupted. Although the The political message is a little heavy-handed and a bit repetitive, Andrew Domink crafts a memorable and highly thought-provoking crime film, with Brad Pitt shows the world again, that he's a fantastic actor that always surpasses the hype around him.
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A forceful socio-political commentary
freemantle_uk29 November 2012
The idea of film being used as a medium for political themes and socio-economic commentary is nothing new, even recently with films such as Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Margin Call aiming to tackle the 2008 financial crisis. But few films have been as unsubtle as Killing Them Softly. Set to the backdrop of the 2008 election, the criminal underworld of an American city has been hit by its own financial crisis after a mob poker game is robbed by two criminals (Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn). With no trades or money being moved, a mob manager (Richard Jenkins) brings in a fixer, Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt), to solve the situation. But none of his actions brings back confidence, whether right or wrong. Writer/director Andrew Dominik admirably uses a gangster story as a metaphor for the financial crisis, but the handling was atrocious. Dominik has no faith in his audience to draw these connections, and even worse, come away with its own conclusions; he opts to spoon-feed us the cliff notes as we watch. This is most evident with the constant use of speeches by George W. Bush and Barack Obama made at time, enforcing the parallels Dominik wanted to make. There are constant references to terminology used at the time, particularly the theme of bringing back confidence to the world, the theme that public perspective is more important than actual actions and we are reminded that the gangster world's situation is the same as the financial world's one. This forceful approach does not allow us to see a natural story. Killing Them Softly is a very dialogue-driven film that breaks the old cinematic maxim of "show, don't tell." We are told that the mob has turned corporate and that there is a crisis, but we do not get to see it. It would have been more interesting to see mob bosses arguing and coming up with theories and seeing that gangsters were unwilling to make any deals in the midst of the crisis. Killing Them Softly ends up rather dull as a result. There are some moments that show what Dominik is capable of: the robbery scene was filled with tension and things felt like they would actually kick off. Whenever violence was used in general, it was incredibly grim and brutal. There is a highly stylised moment when Cogan commits his first assassination, completely played out in slow motion — a brilliant little sequence. The film hits hardest in these scenes. The big saving grace of Killing Them Softly is the acting. There is a great cast with Pitt, Jenkins and James Gandolfini being the biggest draws. They were committed actors doing the best they could, elevating the dry material provided with excellent delivery and chemistry. Pitt and McNairy played the most likable (and I use that term loosely) characters, and were the most well-drawn and conflicted characters in the film. McNairy was the most human, reacting naturally to his situation, and Pitt is able to be cold-hearted and professional when he acts upon his deadly task. Killing Them Softly is a film that feels its political parallels are enough of a mask for it to be seen as an intelligential masterpiece, but it feels too demeaning to have everything spelled out like that, which was made worse given the story played second fiddle to these political parallels. There was potential for a great film if there was a good re-write, but it ends up being one of biggest disappointments of 2012.
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Killing Me Softly ... with boredom!
thefilmguy71 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Killing Them Softly will go down as the movie that killed critics opinions for me. Critics out there praised this movie up the butt and I was a fool enough to listen to them and waste my money. You could have told this movies plot in thirty minutes if you scraped away all of the unnecessary and irrelevant plot threads, like a certain character whining about their wife for at least 20 minutes of screen time. There are all of these attempts at being artsy and different with editing and cinematography choices but it always distracts from what little story is there. It tries to pretend to be smart by shoving down the elections and the state of America down our throats for a cheap social commentary. Really, this is a stupid movie trying to disguise itself as a smart one.

I kept checking the time and considering walking out but thought that maybe there would be at least one surprise from this boringly straight forward story. Instead there is an incredibly unsatisfying and abrupt conclusion and you're left sitting for a moment, wondering if critics are getting paid off for their praise. Minus a good cast and some pretty visuals that were totally unnecessary and self indulgent, this has little going for it.
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namashi_19 March 2013
Based on the 1974 novel Cogan's Trade by George V. Higgins, Andrew Dominik's 'Killing Them Softly' is Brutal! A Hard-Hitting Neo-Noir Crime Film, that speaks its own language without any inhibitions whatsoever! The narrative is difficult to stomach, but the overall impact, is stunning.

'Killing Them Softly' Synopsis: Jackie Cogan is an enforcer hired to restore order after three dumb guys rob a Mob protected card game, causing the local criminal economy to collapse.

'Killing Them Softly' deals with brutality & freedom of speech. Its about the inner demons & the monsters that give them that "push" to come out fiercely. Dominik's Adapted Screenplay is hardcore. It narrates an unforgiving, unforgettable story, about people, whom we can relate to, but not sympathize particularly. Dominik's Direction, on the other-hand, is raw & rustic. Cinematography & Editing deserve a special mention.

Performance-Wise: Brad Pitt steals the show. After 'Moneyball', this is a yet another knockout performance by the Screen Icon. Ray Liotta hasn't been this good in a really long time. Richard Jenkins is excellent. James Gandolfini is mesmerizing in a brief, but significant role. Scoot McNairy & Ben Mendelsohn are fabulous. Sam Shepard shines.

On the whole, 'Killing Them Softly' is a wonder of a film. Two Thumbs Up!
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Not your typical movie
Lepe20095 February 2013
After reading a lot of the reviews here I decided to write my own.

I noticed a lot of people fall over the fact that this is a slow paced movie. Well let me explain something: Back in the days most movies were as fast as this. Nowadays we want fast editing and slick shots because of music video's and commercials where the producers need to put a lot of information in a short amount of time. So in my opinion you are an spoiled lazy brat that doesn't want to pay attention, you just want to be entertained without thinking.

And just because you can't pay attention that doesn't mean this film doesn't have any story. The story is complicated and wants to show you a message. A lot of other 'big time Hollywood crap' don't show messages anymore, they just want to make a lot of money.

Well I want to explain a lot of things about the movie but as you are a lazy spoiled brat you must also be ignorant and stubborn.
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Why Even Make This Movie
smooth_surface2327 September 2012
This movie was so bad, I decided to create an IMDb account finally and hopefully save other people from being duped by the positive reviews.

Simply put, this is a movie that never needed to be made. There is almost no story to it and what little story there is is told in a horribly long and drawn out way. This includes lots of conversations between characters that have absolutely no relevance to the plot among other things. One of the biggest pointless inclusions in this movie is the frequent clips of Bush & Obama credit crunch speeches that are spliced in virtually everywhere in this film. Although the movie is set right around 2008, there's no relevance to the story at all and it's almost like Brad Pitt is trying to make a political point but isn't really clear on what the point is. I'm confident they could've edited this down to a short story and told us the entire story in 10 minutes and it would've been enjoyable. Instead, it was 90 minutes of waiting for it to get going. I don't need big action to keep my simple mind entertained, but I do like my movies to have a good plot and a sense of movement. Lawless for instance doesn't move incredibly fast, but you are glued the whole time. This movie has none of it and I was not surprised at all to see 3 people walk out just over half way through as I was thinking of doing the same thing myself.

I really like Brad Pitt and I would struggle to think of a bad movie he's been in up until this one came along. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone even if it's free. I only wish I could have the 90 minutes of my life back.
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Terrible...only film i've ever walked out on
spelman-andrew29 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I left the cinema three quarters the way through this film.....never had to do that before. It dragged on and on and on. The endless dialog that had nothing to do with the film was infuriating to say the least. At one point James Gandolfini talks about getting a divorce from his wife for a good ten minutes which is completely pointless and has no relevance to the story line at all. This is just one example of a constant series of ridiculous conversations that the film is riddled with. Throughout the film they seem to have some sort of political undercurrent in the background between George Bush and Barack O Bama which I couldn't get my head around. Whether Brad Pitt was trying to get across his political views or what was going on is anyone's guess. I have no problem with the acting in this film....what I can't understand is why Prad Pitt and Ray Liotta (both accomplished and celebrated actors) agreed to do this film. Please save your money and time and don't go!
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Talky, tedious and very, very violent
davidgee25 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Softly is NOT how the killings are done. Before Brad Pitt starts pumping lead we see Ray Liotta subjected to one of the most brutal beatings I have seen on screen; you hear his teeth and ribs crack. The killings are equally visceral; this is not a film for the faint-hearted.

Brad sheds his Adonis persona for the grunge look he wore in FIGHT CLUB, although the character he's playing is a darker version of Tom Cruise's in COLLATERAL. Liotta reprises his role in GOODFELLAS. James Gandolfini builds on his Tony Soprano character to play another hit-man burnt out by too much booze and too many hookers. Richard Jenkins's creepy saturnine Mob Boss seems to extend his (dead!) undertaker from SIX FEET UNDER. There are lengthy talk scenes in cars and bars that bring PULP FICTION and GET SHORTY to mind. The background TV election campaigning by George Dubya and Barack Omaba is presumably meant to emphasise that this is a Serious Movie we're watching, but it's as unsubtle as the hurricane footage.

KILLING THEM SOFTLY shows its sources (or its "hommages") too blatantly. The whole thing is like a hyped-up Guy Ritchie or Quentin Tarantino: some good acting, stunning cinematography, a profanity-rich script, but overall a talky, pretentious and very, very violent movie - and quite tedious.
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Even Crooks Are Hit by the Poor Economy
Michael_Elliott3 December 2012
Killing Them Softly (2012)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Three idiot, wannabe thieves rob a mob run cards game and make off with a ton of cash. Then Jackie (Brad Pitt), a hit-man, is called in to figure out who was behind the robbery and to take care of them. KILLING THEM SOFTLY is being called by many a masterpiece and by many others as one of the worst films of the year. I think most people are really going to hate this film because it's just so different from other stuff out there but I'm going to fall somewhere in the middle of the two groups. While I enjoyed the style and the performances, at the same time the film just takes way too long to really get to where it's going and there are some other questionable things that I'll comment on in a bit. What I did like about the picture is that it's pretty brutal and ugly in regards to its violence and characters. The film really doesn't show any of the characters in a good light as the "good" guys are bad and the bad guys are really bad. There's never an attempt to make you connect with these people or enjoy what they're doing. The film also benefits from some wonderful characters actors. Pitt, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendlesohn and Ray Liotta all fit their roles nicely and deliver very good performances. This is especially true of Gandolfini and Liotta. The problem with the picture is that it just has way too many moments where things seem to really get dragged out. Another major problem is that the film tries to be too much like Tarantino. The scenes early one with the two thieves talking dirty about a wide variety of objects is just going to remind people of PULP FICTION. The dialogue here offers up some funny stories but it's not good enough to really grab one and bring them into the picture. KILLING THEM SOFTLY certainly has a unique look and feel to it but in the end it adds up to very little. The Bush-Obama bits of dialogue thrown in throughout the movie also add up to a big nothing, although I'm guessing the point was that even low-life criminals have bit hurt by the economy.
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Definitely Not Anywhere Near a Classic
siliconvalyguy30 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I actually had no idea what to expect from 'Killing Them Softly', as I'd not seen any trailers or heard any gossip or chatter about it online. So, I guess you could say I sincerely went in with no preconceptions or prejudices for or against this film. That said, it was simply one of the worst filmgoing experiences I've had this past year. The story that the movie started with and the two thieves involved in the card room heist were honestly the most interesting thing about the movie, but it was obvious that they were there as a backdrop (excuse) to bring in Brad Pitt's enforcer. Between Pitt's completely lackluster performance, James Gandolfini's weird drunken pervert of a hit man, and Richard Jenkins' worthless mob lawyer, they managed to suck the air out of every single scene they were on screen. I readily admit that I actually found myself falling asleep and then both wanting to walk out, while hoping there would be a much better ending to make up for the previous 100 minutes of stupidity. There is absolutely no redeeming quality within this movie. And the added inclusion of multiple scenes or audio of Barack Obama's election in 2008--Pitt is a MAJOR Obama supporter--were both odd and seemingly had nothing to do with the plot whatsoever, so they just made the movie drag that much more. I won't give away the ending or what happens to whom, but I honestly should, just to save all of you the pain of sitting through this horrible excuse for a paycheck for Brad Pitt.
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Very disappointing film
TMokko4 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this at Night Visions -festival in Helsinki, Finland. I hadn't heard anything about it so my mind was totally hype free - I just expected a good or average movie.

First 20 minutes of the film were decent and two lowlife characters were guite funny - although not very likable. Then came in James Gandolfini with his mannerism stolen from great Jon Polito. He did the same lip licking and empty stare as Polito in Miller's Crossing. Gangolfini's character was just unrealistic and totally unnecessary in the film. Dialogue between Brad Pitt and Gandolfini put me to sleep - literally I dozed off when that timewaster was in halfway and Gandolfini told third time how he likes to f*ck wh*res.

There was couple of good scenes in the film, like the heist in the gambling house and the shooting of Ray Liotta's character, which had a nice slowmo and good cinematography. Cinematography in the movie was OK, but it didn't save the storyline from it's dullness.
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Want my time back
lhustoles1 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This was horrible. I wish I had known I was walking into a movie with an entire soundtrack composed of Obama campaign speeches. James Gandolfini's character was pointless. The shooting of Ray Liotta was the only good part, ironically the film died with his character. The murder scenes were well done, but very predictable. If you barely follow any real plot, provide an awful soundtrack, and push politics, you could consider being kind enough to provide your bored-to-death audience with some gratuitous nudity. Unfortunately, even the one hooker in the movie was unattractive and a little too fat for Hollywood. If you are considering this just turn on C-SPAN and beat your head against the floor for two hours. The end result will be the same. The constant anti-corporate rhetoric spewed by overpaid actors is getting old. If you are going to push some personal political agenda, at least do so in the context of a film that is moderately entertaining.
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Killing Them Softly – Seducing Us Definitely
renee-844-41762215 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Every now and again, a movie comes along that comes as close to movie perfection as you can get.

Killing Them Softly is about the GFC hitting the US criminal underworld. Funds for hits are trickier to obtain. The quality of hit-man you can get for your dollar these days is a compromise.

Andrew Dominik has taken a great story, re-titled it with one of its key phrases and given us a movie that will undoubtedly score him a Best Director Oscar nomination in 2013.

From the opening sequence with Ben Mendelsohn playing what might be his greatest, grottiest character ever, the subtext of the film is evoked by great visuals of suburban desolation and regular punctuation of radio and TV political rhetoric. Obama is a frequent image – the official Big Boss of the Ununited States Of America.

And without giving anything away (no spoilers here) it all makes even more sense in the final scene – when text and subtext collide in a gob- smacking, grim realization of what the US has become and what has become of us.

As Michael Moore pointed out in Capitalism: A Love Story, the distinction between capitalism and democracy has been made murky when they are in fact two very different entities.

Democracy is a form of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Consensus and referendum are key to policy formation and decisions.

Capitalism is based upon 'every man for himself' and for a minimum wage the rest of us can put ourselves into voluntary slavery and subscribe to a generic superstition like say, Christianity then buy into the dangled carrot of a better life in the next life. They might call it the After Life but it's really no more than an After Death. And I'm betting not much happens from that point on. Ask a steak that was once a cow what its After Life is like.

Capitalism pretended to be the good buddy of democracy in order to establish itself as the preferred First World Westernized way to live. When in fact, capitalism has little to do with freedom of the people – unless you are one of the few at the top raking in obscene amounts of money you can't spend and fiddling with yourself on your mansion rooftop watching the rest of the country burn because of your unbridled greed.

It's great to see Ben Mendelsohn go from an AFI Best Actor Award for Animal Kingdom – to a significant support role in The Dark Knight Rises – to a perfectly directed role in Killing Them Softly that will establish him as an internationally recognised character actor. And he's worth every accolade he gets.

In my interview with Andrew Dominick, I complimented him on his heavy use of close-ups on his cast which creates extreme intimacy. In scenes of James Gandolfini with Brad Pitt in a hotel room, you can see the direction of dialogue coming out of Gandolfini's mouth and also the expert direction of his character's soul being directed in the facial muscles, tics and the old, wounded eyes of a weary hit-man.

I'd give Andrew Dominik a Best Directing Oscar nomination for this scene sequence alone. And I'll bet Gandolfini will get a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod too next year.

Also - the Scorsese-influenced slo-mo car death sequence cut to music truly elevates the art of dying on celluloid to a new level to which Quentin Tarantino can only aspire. And I really like QT's work with death.

Andrew Dominik made Chopper starring Eric Bana then The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford and now Killing Them Softly. He's made a massive impact with three films.

The Decline Of The American Empire has happened as surely as did the Decline Of The Roman Empire. There's so much in each frame of Killing Them Softly, repeat viewings are essential. It is probably the best film I have seen all year.
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Not good
neil-47628 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta) robbed his own gambling den some years ago and eventually owned up: because he is a good guy, he was forgiven. Johnny Amato has the bright idea of robbing it again - people will assume Markie is playing the same trick again and blame him - and engages losers Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) to carry out the robbery. The local crime hierarchy, who operate by slow-moving committee, are fronted by the unnamed character played by Richard Jenkins who engages enforcer Jackie (Brad Pitt) to investigate and take remedial action (as long as it remains within budget). Jackie, in turn, brings in hit-man Mickey (James Gandolfini) to whack Johnny, because he knows Jackie.

This film had a terrific cast, but it really wasn't very good. The slim story isn't really enough to fill the relatively sparse running time, and there are far too many hugely talky sections which seem to be there just to give the actors a chance to act. In particular, James Gandolfini's character is absolutely unnecessary and occupies two lengthy dialogue sessions. Gandolfini is very good, the character is deeply unpleasant, and that part of the film leads nowhere.

But there are also other areas where far too much time is taken to achieve not very much - the dialogue between Frankie and Russell where Russell is descending slowly - very slowly - into a narcotic haze, for instance.

I would not have minded so much if there had been some pace, some excitement, or even something attractive to look at. But this is a slow, tedious, drab film with no sympathetic characters and an over-exaggerated idea of its own significance. The political commentary might have meant something if you are American: I'm not, so it just wasted more time. And I would have quite liked an ending. Never mind, maybe next time.
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Slow slow slow slow slow
Ric-730 November 2012
The film proves that a 90-minute film can still be boring. This is an introspective slice of life involving hit men hitting one another. The grisly whacks are separated by long actor's exercises, which prove that the actor can play his character well. It is a major shame these characters were not used in any remotely interesting way.

My theory is that the filmmakers discovered they had only a 70-minute film and then decided to add the essentially irrelevant dialogue--many scenes of two actors sitting and talking. And there's a drug scene with a slo-mo hallucinogenic effect, similar to numerous films released around 1970. And there is a slo-mo killing. Slow, slow, slow. The poor script is not helped by the uninspired direction and camera set-ups.

The only reason I stayed for the whole 90 minutes was that the film was shot in New Orleans, though evidently it is set in Boston. There are no identifying landmarks.

If you are expecting any kind of action film, look elsewhere. And don't assume that the excessive political commentary will endear this film to any Obama supporters.
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It's hard for America to look in the mirror
OzOsman29 December 2012
Reading the reviews here, there is no other possible conclusion. However, I guess Americans can't be blame, as they were made to wear black glasses and there's not much you can see through these, not even yourself in the mirror. Very good movie for those who look at reality as it is and those who can take off their black glasses.

Do you people know about allegory? Do you people know about double meaning? Can you watch a movie without effects? Can you listen to what people say and think at the same time? Do you ever discuss movies/books with your friends and think about them? Try it while watching this movie. It will be very useful.

PS. When I say American/s, I mean the whole Americanized world.
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A parallel story of promises never kept
ljblind12 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Most reviews of this film talk about what we see on the screen. There is more here than meets the eye. The setting is the City World gone bad. The action revolves around retribution for a heist of a mafia protected card game that threatens this small time underworld economy. Someone has to pay and be made an example of so this does not happen again. But it does happen again and the wrong person is blamed. The fixer is brought in, Brad Pitt as Jackie, who agrees to fix things for Richard Jenkins, Driver. There will be blood and lots of it. At times I wanted to walk out of this film. The hoods are losers, disgusting, stupid, filthy, addicted and pathetic. The violence is brutal. The language comes from the mouths of people who have become brain stem creatures. But I stayed to the end much like each character in the film. In the background, playing on car radios and displayed on large flat screen TVs, is the news about the fall of the American economy and the rise of Barack Obama during his campaign and eventual election. These CNN clips parallel life on the bad street where people fight for territory, their next buck—to keep their end of the "deal". They interrogate one an other for the truth, turn on one an other and endlessly lie. So we are watching parallel stories about the protection of the rich and powerful for the promise—a so called dream that is always out of reach. There is a polemic in Killing Them Softly about all men being created equal penned by the father of our country who kept slaves and did what he wanted with them. Without giving away too much of the ending, the main character utters our own sentiment when he says, "Pay me." I am glad I stayed to the end and glad for production companies like Plan B.
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Shaggy dog story with bite
bruce-moreorless25 October 2012
George V. Higgins must be the most underrated "crime" novelist around. He is admired by higher profile authors like James Ellroy but largely unknown by the general crime-reading public. Perhaps it's the shaggy dog, dialogue-driven nature of his books that puts people off. His stories are more about the journey than the destination. Higgin's finely observed portrayals of the speech-patterns and behaviours of the American East Coast underclass should have made his work fertile ground for screen adaptations, but again he has been pipped by other crime authors. As far as I'm aware only one other of his novels, 'The Friends of Eddie Coyle', has been adapted to film. A new adaptation was well overdue.

Thankfully, director and screen writer Andrew Dominik has stayed true to the source material (Higgin's novel 'Cogan's Trade'). In doing so, he has made a film of dialogue and mannerisms where, like Higgin's books, it's not so much where you end up, but how you get there. Along this journey, Dominik is ably assisted by a fine ensemble cast led by Brad Pitt. Each part plays its role and each is essential to the success of the other.

'Killing Them Softly' may not be to everyone's taste, but if you like your films to be "mouthy", intelligent, well-scripted, well-acted and well-paced, this is one for you.
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