Though most of the cast of ‘Killing Them Softly’ will be recognisable to you from other crime films and shows, I struggle to think of anything else I can compare it to.
When two would be gangsters commit a robbery during a mob-backed poker game, gang enforcer Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is sent to find and kill the culprits.
Alongside Pitt are star turns from James Gandolfini as Mickey, a hit-man experiencing a mid-life crisis, and Ray Liotta as Frankie, the main suspect for the robbery.
The film takes place during the economic collapse and Presidential election of 2008. This is heavily implied through the various uses of Bush and Obama speeches from the time. They feature in the robbery scene, they are heard during car journeys, they are on screens in airports, they are played in bars - this feels forced and over used, an on-screen graphic would have had the same effect of placing the viewer in the time.
The bulk of the film consists largely of long periods of inactivity, specifically long scenes of characters sitting around telling anecdotes. This is not a criticism; the dialogue is so well written and the actors deliver it so well, that these scenes add to the story and were one of my favourite aspects of the film.
Similarly deserving of praise are the scenes of violence, handled in a gritty, intense way.
When the film ended I was expecting more, both a criticism and a compliment. It has a sudden ‘Sopranos’ like ending which made me do a double take, but did not manage to affect my overall feeling of the film.
‘Killing Them Softly’ comes highly recommended. Easily one of the best films I’ve seen this year, it is unlike anything else you’re likely to have seen before.
By Kelan Headley