Killing Them Softly (18)

Film

Action and adventure

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Wed Apr 18 2012

This adaptation of George V Higgins’s 1970s crime novel ‘Cogan’s Trade’ drags the book’s down-and-dirty story of poker games, petty criminals and the mob forward to 2008. But it keeps that decade’s crumbling, end-of-the-world look in its near-apocalyptic New Orleans setting and its commitment to serious, entertaining American cinema. It also pulls off the clever trick of operating as a gangster movie – these mobsters have missions to complete and people to kill – while at the same time sarkily undermining these same folk, attributing to them a heavy dose of incompetence.

The story finds fish swimming with sharks. Two penniless young crims, Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn), shoot up a backroom poker game run by Markie (Ray Liotta). As quick as you can say ‘naive’, they have a cool, calm mob fixer, Jackie (Brad Pitt), on their tail, who hires an assassin, Mickey (James Gandolfini), to do his dirty work; Mickey’s handler is a backroom suit, Driver (Richard Jenkins).

It’s all defiantly male, and the only woman to open her mouth is a prostitute. But ‘Killing Them Softly’ is also pleasingly anti-macho in presenting the world of gangsters as a chaotic shit-show forever undermined by human fallibility. The film’s occasional bursts of violence are tempered by such moments as a character sobbing and vomiting after a beating. Another character’s marriage crisis and hard drinking make him criminally impotent.

Writer-director Andrew Dominik (‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’, ‘Chopper’) lays it on a little thick, both the state-of-the-nation nods, with ample TV clips of Barack Obama and George W Bush playing in the background, and the idea that this grimy noir is a metaphor for sickness and stupidity in the financial sector. But, those niggles aside, ‘Killing Them Softly’ is a cracking piece of storytelling with a restrained balance of laid-back chat and canny visual outbursts – and it has a delicious thread of gallows humour running through it.

Dominik plays his hand as a stylist just enough, memorably in a scene where a character is trying to talk through a fog of heroin, and another in which a man is assassinated in super-slo-mo. It’s also a terrific actors’ movie, with everyone on screen putting in some of their best work, from Mendelsohn’s cocky and comic petty slimeball act to Gandolfini’s turn as a past-it, booze-soaked killer with a sharp tongue. Massively pleasurable and just smart enough.

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Release details

Rated:

18

UK release:

Fri Sep 21, 2012

Duration:

97 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Andrew Dominik

Screenwriter:

Andrew Dominik

Cast:

Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini

Users say

0
<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:5
  • 2 star:6
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|33
1 person listening
Irishman

Definitely not a fan of this one. the endless chattering and philosophizing of the central characters just became boring and tedious. There was just nothing interesting about this bunch of losers, even Brad PItt's fixer... clearly it has its fans but I just don't see why. The most over-rated film I've seen in a very long time.

Dee

Me & my partner really enjoyed watching this psychologically adept film. I liked the dialogue as it allowed me to get to know the characters a little. We both thought the slow motion execution was truly amazing, although it was painful to watch a man be murdered. So as a film we both found it captivating on various fronts, and even though it was hilarious at times, I'll admit that overall it did nothing to enhance my mood or optimism about the human condition. But then I've always been a fan of "gritty realism". 

Dee

Me & my partner really enjoyed watching this psychologically adept film. I liked the dialogue as it allowed me to get to know the characters a little. We both thought the slow motion execution was truly amazing, although it was painful to watch a man be murdered. So as a film we both found it captivating on various fronts, and even though it was hilarious at times, I'll admit that overall it did nothing to enhance my mood or optimism about the human condition. But then I've always been a fan of "gritty realism". 

Peter Ludbrook

I liked this movie. and was gripped from the opening scene. There was quite a lot of talk but as it was both well written and well acted talk I'm not complaining. I don't want to fast forward to the next killing. In the end it was a much better film than I expected. Compared with a lot of the overrated dross I've seen this year this was worth 5 stars.

Peter Ludbrook

I liked this movie. and was gripped from the opening scene. There was quite a lot of talk but as it was both well written and well acted talk I'm not complaining. I don't want to fast forward to the next killing. In the end it was a much better film than I expected. Compared with a lot of the overrated dross I've seen this year this was worth 5 stars.

Bill

Boring people are easily bored. The dull and the thick will not enjoy or understand the film, but then they can always go and see resident evil. For those who are thrilled by brilliant cinema this is a must. Real, funny, scary and brilliantly acted and directed.

Bill

Boring people are easily bored. The dull and the thick will not enjoy or understand the film, but then they can always go and see resident evil. For those who are thrilled by brilliant cinema this is a must. Real, funny, scary and brilliantly acted and directed.

Kevin

Went to see this movie last night. Screening was sold out and only 2 people walked out. Far more realistic than say "Lawless" in depicting what actually happens when you get shot. In other words, you die a horrible death.

Richs

Seriously bad film. If you like long boring dialogue films this is for you. Avoid at all cost

scrumpyjack

Ignoring the fact that the first 20 min feels like a read through, this is good stuff. Oh, nothing to get excited about but nice all the same. NICE LEATHER on Pitt too 7/10

Al

A slow but a very intelligent film about the mob. Just shows how even the mob are suffering during the economic down turn.

Kesi

Expected this Brad Pitt film to be at least bearable, maybe even good.... It wasn't

FilmBuff

Rubbish. Boring. Slow. Three words that sum up this film perfectly. I have never seen so many people leave a film prior to the end. Do not waste your time. Ps. You can say it's art but you arty types can lay a loo roll on a table and claim it's art. Saying that, a loo roll on a table would be more entertaining.

JERMAINE

Too much talking and not enough doing sums up this film. Set in New Orleans? How can you tell? It could be set anywhere as the camera hardly ventures outside. Though the George V Higgins book is all dialogue too, this doesn't translate very well. Nice to hear Johnny Cash on the soundtrack though.

Breege Burke

The best film since Pulp Fiction: thrillingly gritty, funny, poignant, clever, and most importantly, real, as art always is. Audaciously, recklessly, real.

Breege Burke

The best film since Pulp Fiction: thrillingly gritty, funny, poignant, clever, and most importantly, real, as art always is. Audaciously, recklessly, real.

Jon Rees

Some good moments, but the pacing was wrong and many long dialogue scenes added nothing to the story. Could have been great. Merely okay in bits.

Movie lover

By far the worst Brad Pitt Movie, walked out halfway, so many others also walked out, very boring and slow!

Stephen.

A fine gangster film, but not in the mode of Scorsese or Tarantino. The pace here is deliberately languid as we are forced to see the lives of a succession of hopeless characters through a microscope, although we would probably much rather not to. The juxtaposition of gangster straight talk with Obama's inspirational speeches work as dramatic chiaroscuro. Good to see Brad Pitt's stamp as producer in the credits. For a man who not so long ago called himself purely 'an entertainer' this film surely represents a departure.

EDDIE

strange very talky thriller...very good acting by all....a film of style over substance I think...good soundtrack and an excellent slow-motion action sequence when someone gets shot in a car but has a very ABRUBT ending that confuses! not sure if i really enjoyed it thats how strange this film is!!!

critique

Well made talk-piece with horrible characters and mildly diverting dialogue, Three and a half stars.

Marsellus

I loved Chopper and Assassination of Jesse James so when I heard about Andrew Dominik's next film, I made a point of watching it in the cinema. However, watching this film I was reminded of another film... Haywire. Good people behind and in front of the camera with a storyline that 'should' have been interesting. Unfortunately, not a lot happened. Quite literally LOTS of talking and not much else. I'm not a bloke that craves action. I can handle drama but this film was tediously slow. Ironically, TO gave Haywire a 4 star review too while its readers (myself included) gave it less. Such a waste of talent!

Sutton

This is a well acted film, with some fine performances. It is an updated gangster film covering various seedy lowlife. There are some amusing moments to be had, notably with a car. Worth seeing, though short of it being a five star film, despite the great performances, I felt a little underwhelmed, perhaps all the critics reviews had raised my expectations.

Iain

Absolutely brilliant take on the modern gangster film. Some trully outstanding visual moments, great performances from everyone despite all the actors looking like crap for the whole film (even Brad Pitt). If you want fast passed cuts and antics watch a Guy Ritchie or Danny Dyer film, if you want gritty realism with a underlying message and some truly unforgettable moments then this is the film for you. Probably my film of the year so far!

Iain

Absolutely brilliant take on the modern gangster film. Some trully outstanding visual moments, great performances from everyone despite all the actors looking like crap for the whole film (even Brad Pitt). If you want fast passed cuts and antics watch a Guy Ritchie or Danny Dyer film, if you want gritty realism with a underlying message and some truly unforgettable moments then this is the film for you. Probably my film of the year so far!

Dylan

Best film of the year. Funny, clever, thrilling, beautifully directed with truly awesome performances. If you don't like this film you don't like cinema.

Dylan

Best film of the year. Funny, clever, thrilling, beautifully directed with truly awesome performances. If you don't like this film you don't like cinema.

Ian

I agree with Archgate. The film is dull and slow. All of the stars look and feel like they are in cruise control. The film drags and you really don't care about or for anyone in the film. I looked at my watch a number of times. I was one of four watching the screening I saw this at it had already moved to a small screen at my local multiplex by the Saturday afternoon, Expect this lazy piece of an attempt at movie making to make a quick exit from screens near you. Just worth two stars, only just.

Ric

lacked a gripping storyline in which brad pitt carried this film on its heels but was steady enough throughout to keep me watching. Go see! good soundtrack

philsee

Enjoyed the seedy realism, the underworld conflicts, the stupid and irrational behaviour of the protagonists. The violence was sufficient for the story, realistic and appropriate. Good review, IMO.

petegiggles

As deep and profound as a Facebook status update. Well-made, uninvolving pish. Rent Kill List instead.

JayneM

I agree with ARCHGATE this film really was dull. I did stsy until the end though! I wanted to see if the film actually got going - unfortunatley it never did.