Not sure what to say about Brad Pitt’s latest effort Killing Them Softly. It is a strange movie to behold. On the one hand it wants to be a serious gangster movie on the other it is hard to say what it wants to accomplish or is trying to do. One can assume it wants to be a character study only problem is all of the characters are so generic it really is hard to distinguish who is whom. Ok that’s an exaggeration.
How can you not like a movie that has Ray Liotta? He even recreates his Goodfella’s laugh here. Well, it is surprisingly easy. It starts with an overly wordy script by writer/director Andrew Dominik who is perhaps best known for writing and directing the overly long titled – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford a few years ago.
You can see the wheels turning. We will make a movie about gangsters set in an unnamed place where everyone sounds like they are from Boston, but maybe they are really in Florida. Here’s the twist these mobsters will talk a LOT but not actually do any mob stuff.
We need to add a couple of random shots of over the top violence – just to wake people up and make them pay attention to the next 20 minutes of monologuing. While we are it, how about adding a lot of random shots and soundbites of President Obama. It will be like he is actually in the movie – even though he has NOTHING to do with it. This is guaranteed to get us some Oscar attention.
So what is this movie about? Really it boils down to a bad Jerry Seinfeld episode. It is a movie about nothing. We have some guy who hires a couple of mooks to knock over a mobbed up card game. Their grand plan is to frame Ray Liotta’s character for the crime because everyone knows that he got away with hitting his own game once before. Jackie (Brad Pitt) is hired to come in and clean the mess up.
Dominik does a fine job directing this movie and everyone is fine, but about 20 or 30 minutes into the feeling that this effort is for naught starts to set in. Unless you are the type of person who likes endless monologue after monologue. It is anyone’s guess why James Gandolfini is even in this. He puts in an appearance to provide some “east coast” mob “color” to everything.
From a purely film making and acting standpoint there is nothing wrong with this film. The problem is it is just so deadly dull and bland. The name Killing Them Softly comes from Jackie’s reluctance to kill people up close or to take out anyone he knows. It gets messy. He prefers the cold, business aspects of being a hitman. Sort of like a film critic.
Final Grade C