Sunday, July 14, 2013

Killing Them Softly - QC Review

Directed byAndrew Dominik
Starring:  Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, Scoot McNairy, Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini
Rated: R  
Runtime: 1 hour 37 minutes  
Release Date: November 30, 2012

Gangster/mob movies have been done to death. How many times can we see a movie about a bunch of wiseguys who love each other like brothers but will whack each other in a heartbeat if they suspect foul play of any kind, and do it with all the emotion of a corpse? There are no stories left to tell anymore. We have seen countless films about a wiseguy turned states evidence, an undercover cop in the ranks, making offers we can't refuse and even mobsters who turn into vampires!

So what exactly does Killing Them Softly, the new film from director Andrew Dominik, have to say that those others didn't? Not a whole as it turns out. Following one of the most drawn out and tedious robberies to ever be committed to film, we are introduced to Jackie ( Brad Pitt), a soft spoken but extremely confident hitman who also just so happens to work for a man named Dillon (Sam Shepard), who is the man responsible for the local gambling ring run by Markie (Ray Liotta), whose establishment just so happens to be the one that just got robbed...for a second time.

The set up is simple, wiseguys want to find the two men responsible for the heist, one a sort of innocent (Scoot McNairy) and the other a dirty sleazebag (Ben Mendelsohn). Both think they got away scot free and have no idea that Jackie is on their tale. When Jackie finds them, and he does eventually find them, he has a special way of taking out his targets. Jackie doesn't like to get up close to his targets, he feels as though their begging and pleading aren't necessary, so he decides to kill them from afar, killing them quietly, killing them...softly.

The problem here has to do with pacing and just a whole lot of nothing happening almost the entire time, which is saying something when the film clocks in at just barely over the ninety minute mark. Endless scenes with people talking in cars, talking in apartments, talking in bars and sometimes the talking is broken up with the occasional bloody beating, but then we are back to people talking in cars again. Seriously, nearly 70% of the film is taken up with people talking in cars, both parked and driving.

That wouldn't be a problem if the dialog were engaging and the characters were interesting, which they aren't in both cases. Even Brad Pitt as the hitman comes off as this completely bland and unsympathetic character. He seems to be going for the aging hitman who has seen it all before and is just going through the motions vibe, but he just comes off as though he is bored with everything he is doing and saying. With the lone possible exception of Ray Liotta's character, the film lacks any sense of humanity whatsoever and it suffers because of it.

Killing Them Softly wants so much to be that cool kid who never really speaks, who is seen in the shadows just observing what all the other popular kids are doing and relies solely on its mystique to fool you into thinking it is as cool as it thinks it is, but has no real idea on how to pull it off. Having a recycled story is bad enough, but when coupled with the exhaustive dialog scenes that go absolutely nowhere (watch out for a bit part by James Gandolfini that results in absolutely nothing) it wears out its welcome well before it even gets started. This could possibly be one of the most insignificant films of Brad Pitt's career.





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