Roze-Rating: 4.5 / 5
Two thugs are hired to rob a local mob card game. They rob it based on the assumption that a specific card player will get the blame, putting them in the clear. The robbery results in the local criminal economy to collapse, causing Brad Pitt’s character, Jackie, to be called in to fix the financial dilemma and restore order amongst the mob.
The premise is smart and interesting exploring a new angle of the gangster genre. I’ve never seen a film where the gangster world is explored to the point of it’s economy, it’s a pretty unique idea that hasn’t been done before. The plot luckily backs the premise up with some intriguing characters and stylish events. What really makes the film special is the filming, it’s clear, stylish and dynamic. Without the conveyed style, the situations wouldn’t have made an impact on the audience. Especially a certain beat up scene, it was probably one the most brutal and realistic scenes that I’ve witnessed in a film. The combination of the rainy, dark atmosphere, powerful sound effects and constant camera movements made for an emotional watch. This really illustrated the violent nature of gangsters to full effect. There was another memorable scene which explores a similar violent event with a different nature. The idea of killing someone softly is what this scene shouted out. the gentle music accompanied with slow motion effects, made the event seem graceful and less savage. There was a less reckless manner about it. Lastly the editing is worth some praise because it is fluent, consistent and effective which became apparent in a certain drug related scene, where the film taps into the mind of the drugged up character, felt extremely real.
Another positive is the dialogue, without the dialogue this wouldn’t have been anywhere near as enjoyable. The characters are so intense that their dialogue is for the most part engaging. There’s enough comedy to keep us entertained but also enough gangster terminology and nature to keep us immersed in the conversation. Brad Pitt probably holds the best lines of the film, namely the last few scenes. As well as James Gandolfini who talks a lot of nonsense but it’s calculated nonsense. Acting is solid all round by all the veterans, but props go to both Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn, both putting in some great performances. McNairy was awesome in Argo despite the smaller role and so was Mendelsohn in The Dark Knight Rises. I feel they didn’t get much credit or recognition for these performances when they fully deserve it, but what they did prove is that they have a long career ahead.
I think the main downfall of Killing Them Softly is that it seems to take itself too seriously. it intends to have it’s message heard, which is evident through constant audio of Barack Obama speeches. it concentrates so much on this that it neglects the narrative.
This film is definitely a must watch of 2012. If you are into films with great filming and cinematography, which is purely dialogue driven and has a unique gangster premise then you won’t be disappointed with the transaction atmosphere of most of the scenes. If your looking for a super violent gangster film with respectful action, then you will find Killing Them Softly quite boring.