Based of the George V. Higgins novel Cogan’s Trade, the new film by Andrew Dominik is a fine addition to the crime film genre. Starring Brad Pitt, Dominik’s third feature film is more of an ensemble of great performances with Pitt at his most watchable. Killing Them Softly tells the story of heist of a hight stakes poker game, ran by helpless gangster Markie (Ray Liotta). With money stolen, gangster bosses are eager to find the money and take out the two robbers (Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn). Jackie Cogan (Pitt) is called in to fix the problem.
Dominik brings the 70’s retro grittiness from Chopper, witch in turn marries the book (written in 1974) with it’s updated setting of the 2008 presidential election. Although not a brutal or gory as his directional debut, Dominik has the touch to mix dark realism with flashes of human comedy.
Killing Them Softly works as a character peace while acting as a social commentary on America. Rather than a series of action scenes and lavish set pieces, the film is made up of mostly conversations, it could have easily have been a stage play. Glittered with good performances from everyone involved. James Gandolfini has fun as an out of shape hit-man and Liotta is refreshingly sympathetic as the down on his luck Markie. Pitt is the one who shines the most, straight talking and painfully honest fixer. Having all his A list charm to the role and being utterly convincing as someone dishing out violent acts as if he is just doing the dishes.
Due to its tone and pacing, Killing Them Softly may leave viewers with an enjoyable but empty experience of being lectured to. However in time, the films magic creeps up on you with a desire of a re-watch.