Review - Killing Them Softly

Killing Them Softly (2012), R, 97 minutes - Killing Them Softly is a film that I saw on a whim a week or so ago starring Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, and Ray Liotta. I didn't know much going in other than who was in it and that it involved the mob or organized crime in some way.  Having had a few days to try and process my thoughts, I'm still not sure what to make of it.

Here's what I do know: Killing Them Softly is well acted.  Pitt, McNairy, and Jenkins are the best of the bunch.  Gandolfini does well too, he just plays a character that is about impossible to like and Ray Liotta does his usual mob movie thing.  I'm not real familiar with him, but Ben Mendelsohn was pretty entertaining as well as one of the two small time crooks who knock over an underground poker game.  Liotta's character (Markie Trattman) runs the poker game.  A couple of years before, he had the brilliant idea of having someone hit his own game because he'd be the last person anyone would suspect.  Well, word got out, and for some reason, the criminal powers that he worked for saw fit to let him run the game again.  Frankie (McNairy) and Russell (Mendelsohn) are propositioned with the idea of hijacking Trattman's game.  He's sabotaged his own game before, so they figured he'd be the primary suspect.  It sounds like the perfect set up right?  Driver (Jenkins) is the highest ranking organized crime figure that we see in the film and he reminds Jackie (Pitt) - who he hires on the crime syndicate's behalf to solve the problem - that he is just an accountant and that he doesn't make the decisions.  Jackie proceeds to track down Trattman, Frankie, and Russell.  What ensues is sometimes humorous and sometimes graphic.  Not that one would expect anything different from a movie involving some level of organized crime.

At times, the script reminded me of films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, or Snatch.  While there are spots of humor, Killing Them Softly won't be confused with a comedy like those others could be.  I liked the concept behind the heist and the fallout that followed, but I didn't really get the point of the repeated political commentary throughout the film (there's a very good chance that this is just because I'm not a really political person and those parts just didn't strike a chord with me).

Overall, I think I liked Killing Them Softly.  It didn't blow my mind, but it wasn't bad either.  There were aspects that I didn't quite 'get', but there were other parts that I really enjoyed.  Sometimes the dialogue is great and other times it seems to wander.  The conversations between Richard Jenkins and Brad Pitt are particularly entertaining.  I'm glad I saw it, but unless you're a big fan of crime (organized, not heist filled) filicks, then Killing Them Softly probably isn't a must see.  I'd suggest giving it a shot courtesy of NetFlix or redbox if you do have any interest.  There's just too many other very good films out this time of year.

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