Jeffrey's Review of Killing Them Softly
Killing Them Softly(2012)
Killing Them Softly manages to be a thriller (of sorts), a drama, and a successful dark comedy all at once, and does so with great skill. It's a film that some will undoubtedly hate, partly for its themes, partly for its content, and certainly for its style. But taken on its' own merits, it's really quite unique.
The most enjoyable aspect of Killing Them Softly is the script, with (mostly) brilliantly written dialogue, delivered by actors in their top form. These conversations take the center stage of the film, and convey its satire and message, while also providing a basis of keeping the audience engaged. Some will find this to be pointless or meandering, but such criticisms are mistaken because Killing Them is concerned with characters, not with sustained action, it wants to be, and is, a smart character study. In this way, it is very successful; every conversation and every piece of dialogue, feels like it fits what the film is trying to do, and feels real to the world that it is trying to convey. The characters feel real, with their insecurities, bitterness, and cynicism.
For what action is present, it is done with a stylistic flair, and is done well, with an almost hyper-realistic feel. It's executed greatly on a technical level, with an atmospheric tone, a methodical pace, and well composed/framed scenes (notably the conversations between Pitt and Gandolfini, reminiscent of some of Michael Mann's work).
As mentioned, the performances here are very strong all around, with Pitt, Liotta, and Gandolfini bringing dramatic weight to every scene,and also managing to pull off the dark humor very well.
The one negative of Killing Them is the sometimes heavy-handed nature of what it's trying to say. The constant political speeches being heard in the background are too on-the-nose. We sometimes get the feeling that the filmmakers are trying to force feed us their commentary on our economic system and the nature of the dog-eat-dog world, commentary which seems to take a very dark view of human nature, and a short-sighted understanding of the free market system. The final line of the film, though very memorable, seems to bare this out.
It's not for everyone, and it's not perfect, but Killing Them Softly is very memorable, well executed, and uniquely enjoyable.