KILLING THEM SOFTLY
DIRECTOR: Andrew Dominik
CAST: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini, Scott McNairy,
Based on George V Higgins's novel Cogan's Trade centred in the 1970s, Killing Them Softly would like to believe it has reinvented that story about recession and the mob to fit into these uncertain economic times, "would like to" being the operative word. Apart from a series of speeches running in the background, by then President George W Bush, then Democratic candidate Barack Obama, and then experts wringing their hands about the financial mess that was America, all that Killing Them Softly has are rather broad strokes comparing the two situations.
So we have a jibe at the "corporate-like structure" that now marks the mob, with decisions being put off in the name of consultations. And we have a jibe at it being squeamish about getting its hands dirty though not so much about squeezing the last dime out of those who do so. Last of all, there is Brad Pitt, the guy actually doing the dirty work, who says he likes to kill them from a distance, "kill them softly", not getting too "touchy, feely" with his victims to avoid their desperate appeals to him to spare their lives — before proceeding to shoot them quite brutally and in slow-motion, choreographed violence.
Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly seems more inspired by the Quentin Tarantino school of gangster films where they talk as much as they shoot. Here though, the dialogues come nowhere close to the compelling art of Tarantino. The conversations are punctuated by abuses, and in accents that are confusing and hard-to-follow.
Dominik's deftness, on the other hand, is visible in the way he paints the bleakness of the scenario and gets the small roles to stand out, from Scott McNairy as a nervous hoodlum who has been talked into looting a mob poker game; from the Ray Liotta of yore who finds himself caught in the middle of a mess that for once