Posted on 10/21/12 09:52 AM
"Killing them softly" offers an intriguing premise and certainly had its moments, but towards the end it felt more and more shallow and - especially in the middle part - became quite boring as it overstretched its snappy, filthy dialogues, which may have been occasionally funny at the beginning, but towards the end just felt forced and didn't really add anything in terms of character or story development any more.
Furthermore, while I found the performances respectable, I found it hard to connect to any of the characters in the movie - possibly, because none of them was really likeable, but also because of the oscillating narrative, which was really unfocused and made of strands just to let many of them strand with absolutely no effects to the "main" storyline, which delivered, by the way, no twists or turns but just meandered straightforward and without any surprises to an end I'd maybe forgive the Coen Brothers - but not this flick.
What was even more irritating was the lack of coherent behaviour by the figures in this movie. Of course most of them weren't displayed as the very brightest, but still - their decisions often didn't make sense - e.g. why did the robbers stay in town despite knowing (and even - Russell - talking about fleeing)?
The movie was even flawed in such basic things like set pieces. This was most apparent in the bar scene, in which beer glasses were emptied in one scene and reappeared seconds later back on the table (and that more than once). I know this is quite a minor issue, but all the flaws sum up and make the movie hardly enjoyable.
I liked the directing, though, there were some great shots - but even there I can recall two scenes where they were simply exaggerated: the one in which the two robbers consume the heroine and the same trick is used multiple times to show Russell is about to fall asleep, and another one in which there is a hyper slow motion shot of blood spraying from a shot brain. I don't have a problem with ultraviolence, but this movie just exaggerated it; the whole cinema was really turned off by the overly explicit depiction of blood towards the end of the movie. Plus it didn't serve any real purpose to get all these people killed off, it was just senseless.
But perhaps that is the movies message: our world is senseless, all is just about business etc. This, at least, is what the ending tries to tell in a very obvious effort to criticize the modern times (as does the depiction of the milieu the whole time and the Bush Jr./Obama messages over the course of the movie via radio and TV + ocassional comments on that).
Overall a movie that feels cleverer than it is, leaving nothing but a hollow feeling with a story that didn't really need to be told and had too many distracting and ultimately meaningless elements in it.
What saves it somewhat are the first thirty minutes, an ok soundtrack (not memorable though, but a very fitting Johnny Cash piece) and - apart from a few exaggerations - a nice cinematography.
For a "gangster" movie with similar dark humor, but better storyline I'd recommend "Sexy Beast".
Ultraviolent and with grim tone is also "Drive" that I found much more enjoyable than "Killing Them Softly", too.
As this is my first review please forgive me if I couldn't make every point 100% clear. Please feel free to contact me if you like to discuss with me about this movie, I'd be glad to have a conversation about it. : )