On the outside, "Killing Them Softly" has all of the components of a good, gritty crime thriller. A solid plot involving underground crime and armed robbery, a cast of genre alums and a big-name leading man carrying it all as a cynical professional hitman. Sounds like the perfect respite from all the glittering Oscar bait scrambling to hit theaters before the year's out, right?
Yeah, not so much. Those are the smoke and mirrors they use to pull you into this strangely placid drama, which occupies a dragging hour and a half with more talking, planning and fumbling societal commentary than good, dirty action.
"Killing" kicks off with, and is driven by, an armed robbery at a mob card game perpetrated by two loser cons (Ben Mendelsohn and "Argo"'s Scoot McNairy). It's supposedly foolproof, since the same thing was pulled off once before by the game's organizer, Markie (Ray Liotta), and the suspicion is already primed to fall on him again. It does – but not for long. In an attempt to restore order to the balance in the underground crime "economy," Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is brought in to hunt down the bumbling duo.
Again, it sounds like the basis for a legitimately good movie. What the succinct premise doesn't account for, however, is the seemingly endless bouts of aforementioned nothingness that completely gum up the works. For a bunch of "men of action," these supposedly uncivilized cons are a real bunch of chatty hens. If there's one upside to that aspect, though, it's that these kind of machismo crime movies are a last vestige of legitimately accepted inappropriateness, and it comes across loud and clear (and abundantly) in the dialogue.
"Killing" is inundated with anecdotes that aren't just a little blue, they're on the other end of the freakin' color wheel. Crazy hookups, stories from the inside, ridiculous past heists – it's all almost prerequisite for getting anywhere in this movie. It's the perfect complement to the give-no-f*ck a…Read more...