Monday, 29 October 2012

Killing Them Softly (2012)

Killing Them Soflty,2012, USA
Director: Andrew Dominik
Stars: Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins & James Gandolfini

                                                                           "America is a business not a country"

'Killing Them Softly' is an intense, violent and intelligent thriller that has a lot to say about the current state of America. The film is Directed by New Zealand born - Australian Filmmaker Andrew Dominik, who with his first 2 directorial efforts has impressed many. In 2000, his made his directorial debut with the Australian film 'Chopper' and in 2007 garnered critical acclaim with the brilliant 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford', his most recent film 'Killing Them Softly' reunites Dominik with 'Jesse James' star Brad Pitt, but this time instead of a historical 19th century Western, its a dark, drab little crime film, but what hasnt changed is Dominik's incredible craftsmanship and ability to create a compelling film.

Pitt stars as Jackie Cogan, a professional enforcer, who is enlisted to investigate the heist of a mob protected poker game hosted by Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta).

'Killing Them Softly' does not feature an elaborate plot summary, and that's a blessing. I've read of many who have been disappointed by the film because they entered expecting an action blockbuster with Pitt killing men by the twenty's with a shotgun. To be honest I had not seen a trailer for this film, I only saw the poster and a couple of screenshots before seeing the film. I was so thrilled when I discovered the film wasnt filled to the brim with senseless violence but with great dialogue and a character driven story, and I was utterly surprised when I Realized how 'Indie' this film felt. It really felt like an independent Australian film until the arrival of Pitt's Character.

On all technical levels, 'Killing Them Softly' is a success. As would be expected, Dominik directs the film  fearlessly and with sheer brutality, he doesn't pull any punches and while the film isn't very action orientated it does feature incredibly realistic violence, there is a beating scene in particular which has to be one of the most violent scenes on film I've seen in a while. I also thought Dominik wrote a very intelligent screenplay, while the film doesn't achieve a whole lot as a story, I definitely though it featured very smart and compelling dialogue and exchanges between characters throughout the film.

One of the films strongest points is its fantastic performances. Brad Pitt is as excellent as always and really does a great job in this role. Relatively newcomers Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy are absolutely fantastic and really hold their own against such established actors. James Gandolfini isn't bad and I understand his character's purpose but I'm not sure he was really right for the role and his payoff is a little disappointing. Ray Liotta always does a great job and takes some brutal hits throughout the film, and I have grown to believe that Mr Richard Jenkins can do absolutely no wrong (excluding Step Brothers) the guy is just brilliant and can elevate a film with his mere presence, a brilliant actor.

In my mind 'Killing Them Softly' is a great film, sure there really isn't much of a plot and it is filled with political subtext (not necessarily a bad thing) but it is so compelling and so well orchestrated and features terrific performances. Absolutely one of the years best films.


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