‘Killing Them Softly’ masterfully executed flick

(Photo courtesy of Plan B Entertainment)

Release: Nov. 30

Rating: R

Pitchforks: 4/5

 

“Killing Them Softly” stars Brad Pitt as Jackie Cogan, who is a professional enforcer hired by the Mob after three men, who were in way over their heads, rob a Mob-protected card game. After the robbery, a giant mess is created in which Cogan is hired to remedy. This movie is not a high-octane joy ride — it’s a slow burn.

While the film takes some time to develop, it is still one of the most rewarding action films to be released this year. “Killing Them Softly” follows in the footsteps of early Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino films, where the focus is more on the characters and the world surrounding them. The ominous air of doom grows ever so present as Cogan gets closer in achieving his goal, and the audience feels it.

The movie has something genuine about it. “Killing Them Softly” treats violence with the upmost class, not showing it sadistically, but showing its true cruelty and disgust.

The way characters interact with one another is not the typical theatrical acting, like in most action movies. The characters feel like real people, each with their own baggage. A major part of why the characters come across as life-like is due to the brilliant acting across the board. Pitt is able to become Cogan; there isn’t a doubt that he wasn’t him, or that he is just an actor.

Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn play the two men who rob the card game, and their performances lead the audience to feel for them, right before it becomes apparent that they are going to be hunted down.

Richard Jenkins plays the representative of the Mob during the dealing with Cogan, and his interactions with Pitt are superb.

James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta also have small roles, and how they perform them is anything but small.

Sadly, “Killing Them Softly” is as fake as it is genuine.

Throughout the film, an underlying political message is omnipresent. The film is set during the 2008 election between Barack Obama and John McCain. Billboards of Obama and McCain hang in the background, the voices of the candidates are heard on the radio, and the politicians are seen giving speeches on TV.

At times, all the politics thrown in feels, well, thrown in. It feels out of place; the message comes across as hokey and fake.

“Killing Them Softly” tries to communicate that America resembles a business and the government doesn’t care for its citizens, but this message falls flat in the context of the film.

Besides that, it is a masterful film just being shy of perfect. The film tries to be overly ambitious with its message, which is disadvantageous to the story. If  “Killing Them Softly” focused entirely on its narrative, then it would be one of the best movies of the year. However, it is still a movie to behold.

 

Reach the reporter at tverti@asu.edu