Killing Them Softly Reviews
An obvious lover of irony, Dominik artfully immerses us into the recession-poor no-hold-barred sardonic underworld. Contrastingly depicting graphic slo-mo killings though a haze of intelligent banter and squabbling by supremely talented actors whilst highlighting the dark comedic undercurrents through a shock-tactic score that culminates into a taut, slick and watchable yet casually pessimistic all-male milieu.
Host to New Orleans secret highly-lucrative poker games, Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta) is loved by all, lining the criminal elite's pockets with fistfuls of cash from the piles on his tables. A potential honeypot to any criminal daring enough, under the instruction of bottom-feeding lowlife Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola), two unwashed kids, the inept Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and strung-out Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) decide to cash-in and knock the game over.
Suspicion to the heists mastermind falls on Markie; having previously fleecing his own game, the idea of another inside job seems obvious. A second bite of the pie is enticing and the fact that Markie was allowed to get away with it due to his favour, the powers-that-be highest level of organised crime worry that if their lack approach to order got out, copycats would have a field day causing a financial meltdown so they bring in professional mob enforcer Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) to investigate and contain the situation.
Instructed by a mysterious driver and 'corporate' go-between lawyer (Richard Jenkins) as to the course of action, the shrewd Jackie is not paid to wait around and deals with this disruption to business as usual with swift brutality. Jackie refuses to kill Johnny however as he already know. Claiming familiar people's useless pleas for life are embarrassing; he prefers to kill subjects cleanly, without feeling, from a distance, softly.
Under his recommendation another killer is brought in, New York heavyweight Mickey (James Gandolfini) at a slightly inflated cost. But Mickey has had a fall from grace; constantly drunk, surrounded by hookers and unable to focus on the task at hand. Jackie is unimpressed and takes matters back in his own hands shedding the blood required to restore order. If 'America is not a country, it is a business' and its business is crime, then everyone is guilty of something and who decides whom actually deservers punishment?
A tight, absorbing and terribly smart genre piece, this profane crime drama is drawn from the shadows of society and will provide drama students with vocal audition pieces for years to come. As en ex-prosecution attorney, Higgins intentions about greed, institutional rot and what needs to be done to keep your economic house in order is abundantly candid.
Finally able to relish more abrasive roles, Pitt delivers yet another effortlessly wonderful performance. Callous, cold and snake-like, caustic monologues drip from lips scolding those intended and the audience alike. His irresistible way of squirming into the heart of a character is simply to be beheld but whether the academy will finally recognise it is yet to be seen. Gandolfini has his usual powerful presence, whilst Mendelsohn; allowed to retain the Aussie accent, is the clear standout simply stealing attention.
The Verdict: Where words have as much impact as bullets, this sour vision of a country in economic distress is worth cherishing simply for its honesty. As Cogan eloquently states "it's not what you have been doing, it's what guys think you have been doin" is often the tared brush with which outsiders opinion of America and organised crime are brandished.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 26/10/2012