Killing Them Softly - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Killing Them Softly Reviews

Page 1 of 186
Super Reviewer
December 14, 2012
An extremely tense and brutal thriller that makes an intelligent comparison between the mafia and the American economic system, even though the analogy is also a bit heavy-handed, and it benefits from a deliberate pace and great performances from a sharp cast.
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2013
With a cast of stars including Pitt, Gandolfini and Liotta and based on a crime novel involving the mafia, hits and heists you would expect this to be excellent. So is it? yes! well no, hmmm...errr yeeaah...kinda.

The plot in this film is really very simple and pretty thin. Ray Liotta's character sets up his own poker ring operation for the loot and gets away with it scot-free. Sometime later two losers do the same thing to Liotta's poker ring and they get away with all the loot...putting Liotta's character under suspicion. Pitt's hitman character is then brought in to sort out the whole situation and find out who stuck up the poker ring for a second time. Which I might add he manages quite easily it seems.

That's the game in a nutshell and like Pitt's acting its basic. This film is semi decent yet flawed, flawed in the sense that the plot is stretched out to 1h 37min with lots of pointless dialog. Most of which bares no relation to the actual plot but just drones on. The main sequences guilty of this are the dialogs between Pitt and Gandolfini, the latter of which just goes on and on about screwing hookers whilst drinking and not much else.

To be honest the plot is half way complete early into the film, Pitt has his job to do and it doesn't need this long to watch him do it. Don't get me wrong though the acting is terrific throughout from almost all players involved...well the stars, accept Pitt. Liotta is turned from tough guy to punch bag in this mobster story and he does it well. Gandolfini looks every bit like a real mafioso head honcho year by year and does what he does best despite the meaningless rambling dialog he has and Jenkins is solid n stoic as ever.

For me this film does highlight how very average an actor Pitt is surrounded by some serious acting stalwarts. Again don't get me wrong, Pitt does OK in his role and in any less of a film he would be fine but this is a grown up mobster flick and he just doesn't match up. I'm not really too sure why they would cast the guy in this type of film really.

One sequence I don't get with Pitt's character is when he whacks one guy...but using a shotgun?! Not only that but he does it from a distance! surely shotguns aren't that effective from a distance and surely carrying out a hit this way would attract a lot of attention from say...the noise?! Not to mention the mess and damage, ah what do I know.

The other thing that bugged me was Scoot McNairy and his annoying tone of voice, the guy sounded like Shaggy outta 'Scooby Doo' for Pete's sake!! geeeez! Didn't think much of Ben Mendelsohn either really. He's an Aussie actor and plays an Aussie in the film, the guy just didn't fit into the story at all, typical US hoods and an Aussie, nah.

The profanity count is high and the violence is brutal, it may make you wince, possibly even jump at times but there isn't lots of it. As this takes place in 2008 there is also snippets from the real event of President Obama's election campaign and victory, why? I'm not so sure as it has no real relevance to the plot or its outcomes. There is a political message in here as Pitt's character states 'America's not a country, its just a business', its all about $$$.

The film is well directed whilst visually it looks slick and gritty, but its trying to hard to be a Scorsese product or trying to hard to be something unique and different. Either way it doesn't really make it mainly down to the fact there isn't much of a plot to speak of.
Super Reviewer
½ September 10, 2012
A quiet, slow and dark crime thriller about a robbery and the consequences. The cast is well picked and delivers the realistic, sometimes pretty funny and nihilistic lines perfectly. The few bursts of violence are excellently filmed. Ultimately, it is the commentary on the state of the Union that feels a bit forced with political speeches on TVs and radios pretty much throughout the film. Still a worthy and highly entertaining addition to the genre.
Super Reviewer
November 29, 2012
Two small time ex-cons stick up a card game frequented by organized criminals and find themselves targeted by a mob enforcer who is brought in to investigate the robbery. Judging by the constant and heavy-handed news sound-bites centring around the recent economic crisis, Killing Them Softly is clearly making making an analogy with the US economy as these mobsters are also feeling the financial pinch. It's a very cynical and cold-hearted film that forces you to spend time with some very unlikeable and unpleasant characters, particularly James Gandolfini's burnt out hit man who makes Tony Soprano look like a loveable teddy bear. There are some nice visual flourishes and the plotting is tight and economical, being very reminiscent of a hard boiled crime thriller of the 1970s, but at the same time it's very wordy and without any engaging characters rather hard going. The star of the show is most certainly Brad Pitt; his pragmatic enforcer is easily the best character and I wish I'd spent more time with him. His final speech is powerful and right on the money but it just served to make me wish that this theme was actually explored rather more during the rest of the film. Killing Them Softly is certainly an interesting film, but the moral bankruptcy of corporate America was highlighted with more subtlety and wit in the superior Michael Clayton.
Super Reviewer
½ December 28, 2012
With the arsenal of stars in this movie you would think it would be a homerun, well it's not. Something was off about it, I think it was the lack of substance; too much talk and not enough walk. It needed more action and grit in my opinion. So because of that, Killing Them Softly is an alright movie at best.
Super Reviewer
½ March 18, 2013
It's not as gritty as Scorsese, nor pretty as Tarantino, but it does feature some excellent conversations between Brad Pitt and (1) Richard Jenkins and (2) James Gandolfini and it's interestingly punctuated by Obama's 2008 election speeches. The plot around these scenes is predictably plain, though, and as a result I found the whole thing a bit boring. While Dominik's last film, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, was slow-moving, it was engaging nonetheless; what we have here is a run-of-the-mill gangster movie, its economic crisis allegory notwithstanding. A letdown from this director, we've already seen better from him.
Super Reviewer
May 4, 2013
A very stylish crime tale that carries a political message along with it. It's very brutal and graphic at times with a very gritty feel to the whole film. Quite a slow burner at times it finally gets going at a quicker paces about two thirds of the way in. A bit more action and less drawn out dialogue scenes, for the sake of it rather than needed at that, would have made it better in my opinion. However with a cast like this you can just sit back and enjoy the story.
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2013
Nicholas Winding Refn and Quentin Tarantino had a baby, and it's not as beautiful as I was hoping for, but it's still a very very good movie. This dialogue driven piece has violence periodically throughout the film. It is a slow story about three very different groups of people who are all in pursuit of different things, while the core of the movie revolves around death. There are many intense conversations throughout the film and when the violence kicks in, it hits very hard. I felt sorry for the good guys, the bad guys, and the guys whom nothing really happen to, which is hard for a film to pull off, especially in just over 90-minutes. Every actor gives it their all and the story (although not entirely original) is extremely well displayed. "Killing Them Softly" is a slick and well-aced picture. I had a blast watching it.
Super Reviewer
½ June 18, 2013
If you thought Drive was slow, wait till you see Killing Them Softly. Andrew Dominik's second film with Brad Pitt is yet another critique of the American Dream as a sheer and utter lie. It spews dated, narcissistic, and at times naive philosophy disguised as drama. It starts promisingly enough: three not so bright guys planning to rob a poker hall previously robbed by its owner Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta). They believe that because Markie's previous effort was openly known but suffered no repercussions, Markie will be automatically blamed this time and take the fall while they get off scott-free. This robbery sends the entire criminal underworld into upheaval, forcing a hitman named Jackie (Brad Pitt) to come in and clean up the mess.
What follows are a lot of drawn out discussions that fail to progress the story or develop the characters in an engaging manner. The shots are uninspired, creating no tone. atmosphere, or any sense of a city collapsing under the weight of the 2008 Financial Crisis. Gangster life is as much a corporate business entity as Walmart. Movies like The Godfather and Scarface as well as TV shows like The Sopranos or Boardwalk Empire have focused on the relationship between gangsters and the economy, and they are far more insightful or intriguing than Killing Them Softly could ever hope to be.
Super Reviewer
½ May 30, 2013
Disappointing, as expected. Half a star for sparing the softness.
Super Reviewer
May 3, 2013
Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly is a crime thriller with a film noir flavor.The story is prime for a number of characters, but unfortunately there just isn't enough meat to fill 90 minutes of screen time. The pacing is moderate to slow, and the film fills the time with some long-winded dialogue that does get cumbersome in a few places; nonetheless, the plot does contain enough intriguing moments to surpass mediocrity.The violence is brutal, yet, careful with its usage. Killing Them Softly picks its spots to pull out the guns and punches.Brad Pitt delivers a fitting performance for the most solid character of the film. The rest of the cast is filled out nicely with the likes of Scoot McNairy, James Gandolfini, and Richard Jenkins.Despite some of its downsides, Killing Them Softly delivers at more moments than expected. "Now f*****' pay me."
Super Reviewer
November 28, 2012
Killing Them Softly is gritty, bloody, and pulpy with strong performances from a well rounded cast, but lacks the strong story to pull together all of the individual pieces that work so well by themselves. The dialogue seems pulled directly from a Tarantino movie, with characters spewing out profanities like it's their day job and talking about things that don't have anything to do with the story whatsoever, just before an unexpected act of violence happens. It's done effectively, although no one does it better than Tarantino. There's some truly horrifying violence in this film too, although one scene is operatic and truly a beautiful action sequence. In typical gangster movie fashion, many of the characters backstab each other and so on. You've seen this all done before (and better), although Killing Them Softly does have some pleasures, mainly Pitt in a quality performance exuding confidence and deadly skills as a killer for hire. If you like this sort of movie it is probably worth your time. The capitalism angle that truly rears its head during the final scenes was unnecessary, in my opinion.
Super Reviewer
½ April 3, 2013
A heavy-handed, plodding crime drama concerning a mysterious enforcer (Brad Pitt) who is assigned to a small town to help restore order after a couple of dumb criminals rob a mob during a card game. Quite honestly, this is one of the worst films I have seen in some time. I can't really knock the acting, especially Pitt who is his regular outstanding self, but the story just is not in any sort of hurry to go anywhere. The characters themselves are unlikable, there is nothing that makes you care about anything that is happening, and the film seems to think that Pitt looking like a badass walking around is really, really cool, and all these things show director Andrew Dominek's lack or urgency or focus to his movie. Then, to top it all off, the film has the balls to tie in politics to the whole thing with snip-its of political speeches by Bush and Obama (it takes place in the middle of election season in 2008), to try to make its self-aggrandizing point that crime is a business just like any other in the world and that only the strong, and smart, survive in a cut-throat culture. Without question the worst movie I can recall Brad Pitt being in, and with him not in the cast, I'm pretty sure the movie would have skipped theaters all together and went straight to DVD like it should have.
Nikhil N.
Super Reviewer
½ March 31, 2013
Let's start with what the movie does right. It has some really good acting performances and the violence is Tarantino-esque (brief but bold). It is also well shot and at times it is pretty funny. Unfortunately the movie does a lot wrong. It is unbearably slow, with many exchanges between characters that are extremely pointless. It tries to be a "stinging social commentary" on Capitalism but its message is contrived and not as powerful as it hopes to be. It takes an hour and thirty-seven minutes to make a point that any liberal arts college freshman could make in a minute. This would work well in a book, just as the source material did, but there is a reason we watch films and not read them. There just isn't enough going on up on the screen that makes this movie worth watching.
Super Reviewer
½ February 23, 2012
An instant crime classic. The best movie of it`s kind since No Country for Old Men. A well-crafted, well-character developed and immensely impressive piece of work that's razor-sharp and brutally funny. It has a seductive and razor-sharp groove that`s all its own. A wickedly gripping, dazzling and pulse-pounding crime-thriller. This is strong, confident, brilliant and brutal film-making at it`s best. Director, Andrew Dominik crafts a superb and hard-boiled crime film that's packed with a lot of star power, suspense and dark humor. A masterpiece. It`s explosive, wickedly funny and smart film that has the love of dialogue, grim atmosphere, shady characters, dry wit and violent nature that would make the likes of The Coen Brothers, Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino proud. A stylish, pistol-packing, tongue-in-cheek, and hard-boiled thrill-ride. A tremendously entertaining and wildly cool edge of your seat movie. I loved it. This movie hits the jackpot. A great all-star cast who all deliver solid work here. Brad Pitt is at the top of his game here, he gives one of his best and most compelling performances ever. Pitt is unforgettable. Richard Jenkins is terrific. James Gandolfini is excellent. Ray Liotta is marvelous. Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy are exceptional, they have great and decently funny chemistry
Super Reviewer
March 24, 2013
Killing Them Softly is a very good crime film with a varied cast of talented actors. Every cast member brings something terrific to the screen, and the plot is engaging from start to finish. Andre Dominik who is a brilliant director and has crafted two stunning films before, Chopper and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, crafts this underrated film. Killing Them Softly is a film that did not deserve the flack it has received. I thought that this was a very well acted movie with many standout performances and a very story. Dominik's films are always well structured and have great, memorable characters that are well written and thought out. Killing Them Softly is a well layered movie that is engaging from the first frame onwards and manages to keep you interested due to its cast and story. The film is kind of misleading the sense that by the trailer, you'd expect an action film; well this is not that type of film. Andrew Dominik opts to create a crime drama with a few bits of humor thrown into its plot to make it stand out. This is a taut, riveting crime picture that manages to stand out among others in the genre and is brilliantly directed by a filmmaker who is always keen on creating as memorable cinematic experience. With another great film under his belt, I can't wait to see what Andrew Domink will direct next. One thing is for sure he bursts of talent, and Killing Them Softly is a surprising picture that definitely doesn't deserve the negative press it has received.
Super Reviewer
½ February 25, 2013
Too much talking, not enough acting, and not enough substance. Don't waste your time with "Killing Them Softly." Grade: D
paul o.
Super Reviewer
½ November 11, 2012
TAKE A DRAG AND FEEL THE BURN! This is a film you'll watch and wonder about many things. The pacing is deliberate but to what purpose. Its a european style being used in american cinema. A beautifully shot film that is any ADD person's nightmare. Scenes would last for minutes rather than seconds like other crime dramas. It takes its time and gets its message across. A film that DESERVES more attention and MULTIPLE viewings, Killing Them Softly is an underrated gem and will end up being a classic in years to come.
Super Reviewer
January 17, 2013
So, Brad Pitt and director Andrew Dominik collaborate again after their ethereal western "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford". They now attempt a crime movie that runs over an hour less than their previous effort but in some ways feels just as drawn out. That's not to say that's it's unsuccessful. It has received criticism from many corners but personally I think expectations and preconceived ideas have led to a misunderstanding with this one.
Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) are a couple of smalltime crooks for hire. They get a job to hold up a high-stakes, mafia run, card game that's overseen by middle-man Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta). As Markie has openly admitted to holding up a game in the past, he becomes the obvious suspect but something doesn't quite add up. To clear up the mess, outside enforcer Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is brought in the get to the bottom of it.
Films that fall into the crime genre will always have a certain level of expectation about them. It must be difficult for a director to try and establish a new format when there is a demand that they follow a particular formula. This adaptation of the George V. Higgins novel "Cogan's Trade" is exactly the type of film that has been criticised for it's lack of urgency and has suffered in it's comparison with previous genre classics. Personally, I admire Dominik's attempt at crafting something different here, and despite a glacial pace, I still found it gripping. This is a film that focuses less on action and more on talking and it's entirely understandable why some didn't appreciate it, but for me, the talking was the action and that's thanks to solid performances from everyone involved. Every actor is as good as the other and it's through their strong, and lengthy, exchanges of dialogue that each of them are able to shine; McNairy and Mendelsohn carry the weight of the first part of the story with two very different but equally unlikable low-life's; Liotta plays a perfect, desperate middle-man; Jenkins epitomises the business side of things and Gandolfini is a perfect display of regret and melancholia from a hit-man who's lost his touch. Ultimately, though, it's the reserved central performance from Pitt who commands. Arguably, he's got less to work with but his subtlety is key in expressing the coldness and stark reality of the business that these people operate in.
Of course - as is now expected of Dominik - he doesn't just deliver a formulaic gangster story. Instead, he infuses it with allegory and makes a social commentary on the financial state of America. Throughout the film there are, ironic, radio and television broadcasts of political speeches and discussions about the economy and reminders of how America is the land of opportunity. It's a, less than subtle, device but one that worked quite well. On slightly closer inspection, the criminals that roam this underbelly of modern America are no less disingenuous or manipulative than the politicians in office. They just happen to be conducting their business on a lesser scale. At one point Pitt's Jackie Cogan even describes his cohorts as "Corporate mentality gangsters". That aside, this is still a crime film and as a result, it's not adverse to rolling up it's sleeves and getting it's hands dirty. There may be only sporadic moments of action but when they do appear they are brutally delivered and some of the violence displayed on-screen is wince inducing.
Much like the aforementioned western collaboration between Dominik and Pitt this film dares to incorporate a sociopolitical commentary throughout it's genre. It's unconventional but very effective nonetheless and the last line of the film sums up it's theme perfectly... "America is not a country, it's just a business. Now fucking pay me."
Page 1 of 186