Movie Review: Killing Them Softly (2012)

Posted: July 26, 2013 in Drama
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killing them softly

Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola) wants to rob a closely guarded mob card game.  Amato uses two inept gunmen, Frankie, (Scoot McNairy) and a drug Aussie named Russell. (Ben Mendelson)  Amato doesn’t want to use Russell to knock over Markie Trattman’s (Ray Liota) poker game, but Frankie convinces him.  Amazingly, the two bumbling gunmen pull it off.  A mob associate, The Driver (Richard Jenkins) brings in a hitman named Jackie (Brad Pitt) to hunt down and kill Johnny, Frankie, Russell, and Markie Trattman.  Jackie’s reluctant to kill Markie, even though he thinks Markie is in on it.  Jackie brings in a washed-up hitman called Mickey (James Gandolfini) to track the four men down.  Jackie doesn’t need much help finding the perpetrators, because Frankie’s been bragging about robbing the poker game to Jackie’s mutual friend Dillon (Sam Sheppard).  Does Jackie find Amato, Frankie, Russell and Markie?  What does he do when he finds them?

I don’t like this movie.  It tries to be a cheap copy of a Tarantino movie and fails.  Do you know how I know it tried to be a Tarantino knockoff?  Frankie and  Russell start talking about things that aren’t related to the heist in an irreverent way, but the difference between this movie and a movie like Reservoir Dogs, which successfully punctures pop culture, the writing in Killing Them Softly SOUNDS like movie dialogue, it doesn’t sound like the way gangsters talk, the way Tarantino would write it.  Another disappointment in this movie is the interspersing of political speeches by W, and Obama during the financial crisis, with the action in this movie.  I don’t know many bar owners or gangsters that are interested in politics, but in every scene there’s some pol making a speech in the background.  Lest the viewer think this is accidental, Pitt makes a long soliloquy about what he thinks about the government.

Brad Pitt needs to realize his limitations as an actor, he is good in certain roles, action movies, that take advantage of his comedic timing, like Inglorious Basterds, a  great Tarantino film.  But Pitt is deadly serious here, not even a hint of irony.  This movie reminds me of Drive, but Pitt is not nearly as good an actor as Ryan Gosling is. Gosling’s moody performance in the Driver is what made that movie work,  Pitt’s mumbling throughout makes this movie snoozeworthy.  It’s nice to see James Gandolfini, in what could have been his last role, but he does nothing more than reprise his Sopronos role, and reinforce the tendency of casting directors to typecast people. Ray Liotta makes the best of a small role, but he was much better in Goodfellas.

The movie is slow, but it’s not the direction, it’s the writing, but you can blame the same guy, Andrew Dominick, he wrote and directed this movie.  He also wrote the similarly boring Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford.

Killing Them Softly:  Death By Boredom.

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