Cinema Express: Killing Them Softly (2012)

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Andrew Dominik’s third feature film, following the little known Chopper and the celebrated The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, puts a unique spin on the mob movie template. Throughout the duration of the film, the political speeches of Barack Obama and George W. Bush are heard from car radios and televisions. In the excerpts, the presidents are always addressing the economy. No, the movie is not a political statement. Killing Them Softly compares crime against the mob to economic crisis. With a master class of actors and a smart screenplay, the film makes its points simple and obvious, but the movie never relies on these comparisons to carry it.

Dominik’s film is a masterpiece of minimalism. It is stylistically sound and fueled by its dialogue, which is fascinating to listen to. There is tension in the conversations and the cast provides attitudes and characters that strengthen every line. If there is a false note in this movie, I did not detect it. It puzzles me that the movie was not met with the acclaim that greeted Dominik’s last film upon its premiere. Killing Them Softly is about an hour shorter and every bit as well made and entertaining as the director’s last film. I probably enjoyed this film better than Jesse James, but I suppose its main significance is that it shows Dominik is beginning to put together an interesting and impressive filmography. It is debatable whether or not this is his best film yet. Regardless of what the correct opinion is (if there is a correct one), I suggest that you see it for yourself.

A-

19 responses to “Cinema Express: Killing Them Softly (2012)

    • When I first saw Assassination of Jesse James a few years ago, I wasn’t that impressed. After loving this, I think it’s time to revisit it now. I’m definitely looking forward to his next films as well.

    • I just read your review. I can definitely see your point of view. There is a lot of talking and very very little action, so I can see how it could get boring or confusing. I loved how the movie was paced though and I liked how the movie wasn’t just another gangster film with lots of shoot-offs, it seemed to make it more realistic. Glad you liked the Pitt-Liotta scene though, that was one of my favorite parts. Thanks for commenting; I enjoyed reading your review. 🙂

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  2. Assassination of Jesse James is one of my favorite movies, but I was very disappointed with this one. I liked Pitt and the cinematography buy overall I found the film to be a boring mess.

    • I’ll admit that I was disappointed when saw Assassination of Jesse James a few years ago. I wasn’t expecting it to be the way it was. My opinion of that film seems to exactly mirror your opinion of Killing Me Softly. However, I have a feeling that I’ll like Jesse James if I give it another go, so I’m gonna try and watch it soon.

  3. Good review Garrett. A great movie because it builds it’s tension through characters, conversations, and shitty situations. Like an old-school, classic thriller that isn’t all about guns, car chases, and explosions. Although there are plenty of guns dealt here.

  4. Great to hear that your a fan of this one Garrett. I was too but a lot people gave it a hard time. I thought it was brilliant. Nice write-up man.

  5. Garrett you are very fair with this review. There was plenty that I LOVED (not liked, loved) about KTS, but I think that in the end the comparisons being made to the economic collapse and the morality behind who is responsible for causing such-and-such was driven over the head a little too much. I think I made that point pretty evident in my review, but honestly I don’t think that even that complaint is/was enough to take away from the terrific performances from a monstrously talented cast. Brad Pitt won me over here. I’ve never seen him so vicious. And that scene where Trattman gets his ass kicked — man, was that brutal!!

    • Thanks, man! I understand the criticisms about the message being overdone, but I honestly didn’t think a thing about it going overboard while I was watching it. I don’t know about you, but I see way too many political speeches and campaign ads on TV during election season. 🙂 So I actually think the movie might have been more realistic by showing so many.

      The cast was awesome! And I have to admit that Pitt is my favorite working actor, so that definitely made it better for me!

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