Monday, July 15, 2013

Film Review: Killing Them Softly (2012)

Killing Them Softly (Review)
United States/2012
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

Johnny "Squirrel" Amato plans on robbing Markie's (Ray Liotta) poker game using Frankie, a nervous and naive associate, and Russell, an eccentric drug addict. Previously, Markie orchestrated a robbery for his own poker game and made off with the money, and he eventually admitted it to the rest of the criminals - luckily without consequence. Now, Squirrel's robbery will essentially setup Markie, if all goes as planned...

When the robbery is completed, Jackie (Brad Pitt), a hitman, is called in to handle the situation for the mafia. Although the fully understands that Markie isn't stupid enough to pull this stunt twice, he strongly believes Markie should be killed so that a message is sent to the outsiders look in; otherwise, every kid with a gun will think it's okay to rob the mafia. And so, Jackie begins his work, searching for the two robbers and the mastermind. Along the way, he brings his old friend, Mickey, a New York-based hitman, to kill Squirrel - Jackie initially refuses as he personally knows Squirrel.

Killing Them Softly is a straight-forward gangster film - very easy to follow, and clean cut. Although it is simple, the film incorporates a unique style and some compelling material. The financial crisis really affects everyone - if you don't have money, then neither does the mafia. The financial crisis of 2008 plays a major role in the film, and is constantly referenced in the background. It works very well off of its dialogue - the conversations flowed very well with a sense of authenticity, and it was often very witty. The murders are very stylish, blending slow-motion and lavish colors, along with some graphic violence. This all leads to a very well-done and compelling, although a bit abrupt, ending. I really enjoyed the story in Killing Them Softly, it can be a bit slow but it manages to be unusually mesmerizing.

The cast is great. As I previously mentioned, the dialogue was very smooth and genuine. Brad Pitt has limited screen time, yet he manages to deliver a magnetic performance; his charisma really adds to is excellent delivery. Ray Liotta is also fantastic in this film, delivering the right emotions at the right moments - definitely an understated actor showing great skill. The music in this film is fantastic - including the actual music and the seamless editing of the material. The film is shot beautifully, the slow-motion sequence really stands out. The storytelling is smooth, as is the editing; however, some scenes feel like they drag on and on, and some dialogue feels forced - these are two very minor issues.

Overall, Killing Them Softly is a fantastic crime drama - it delivers an entertaining and occasionally compelling story, fantastic performances from Pitt and Liotta, and superb editing and music. You should be prepared, though, as Killing Them Softly has a very slow pace and relies on its dialogue - don't expect an action/shooter gangster film and you should be fine. I highly recommend Killing Them Softly for fans of the genre. A rental for those who usually dislike slow-paced dramas.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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