Killing Them Softly

Killing Them Softly

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  1. Have you seen a trailer for Killing Them Softly? If you have you still probably don’t know what it’s about. All I can tell from the trailer is that Brad Pitt plays a hitman and there are some slow-motion death scenes. I didn’t go into this film with any kind of expectation… and it still surprised me. Some people are excited about this film because it’s written and directed by Andrew Dominik who wrote and directed The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford which also starred Brad Pitt (and has a title that is way too long). I haven’t seen that film, but it was nominated for two Oscars and has Casey Affleck in it… so I’ll probably check it out when I get a chance.

    Killing Them Softly is not what you might expect from a hitman film. It has a storyline that you might expect but it executes that storyline in a strange, somewhat meandering way. And it doesn’t have quite as much action as you might expect (and hope for). The story goes something like this:  two guys stick up a poker game because, when they do that, everyone will think that another guy actually did it; then everyone will go after that other guy, letting these two guys get away with the money and not have a bunch of guys trying to kill them. Of course that doesn’t go as expected, though, so Brad Pitt has to get involved to make it right… you guessed it, by killing the people that actually ripped off the poker game. That’s a pretty standard mob-style revenge movie.

    This film, however, doesn’t go about it in such a conventional way. A lot of the film involves characters talking to each other. Just talking. Not shooting up warehouses or running for their lives. Talking. While the dialogue isn’t bad, it’s also not witty enough to keep me engaged the entire time (especially since the actual story doesn’t really do anything new). Brad Pitt is great in this film, though, and his character is different from most hitmen, which adds some interest.

    What stands out about this film is how good it looks. It’s a very artistically made film and is extremely deliberate with all it’s filmic elements. That’s the same kind of thing I said about Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 film, Drive. Killing Them Softly actually reminds me a lot of Drive because of its generous use of slow motion, its relatively slow pacing, and how graphically violent it is. The death scenes look like works of art, though.

    Overall, Killing Them Softly is good if you are in the mood for that kind of film. It’s artistic and somewhat surreal. If you like Drive (starring Ryan Gosling), then you will probably like Killing Them Softly even though Drive is a much better film. It also ends kind of abruptly and I haven’t decided how I feel about that.

    Nolan’s Grade:  C

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