Killing Them Softly is stylish, grimy, and tense
Starring Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, and Richard Jenkins. Rated 14A.
In Killing Them Softly, Brad Pitt is a sociopathic hit man; somebody’s head takes a bullet in an awesome way; and everybody needs a shower. All these things constitute a recommendation. Importantly, it’s not so much that people in this movie have personal-hygiene issues—although some could use a frank discussion—but that their souls need a good scrubbing. Then again, clean souls aren’t very fun to watch.
Right. Four people must be offed. One is nicknamed “Squirrel”, which is reason enough. Squirrel, aka Johnny (Vincent Curatola), hires two single-celled lowlifes (Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn) to rob a high-stakes New Orleans underworld poker game run by Markie (Ray Liotta). Mobsters (repped by Richard Jenkins) get upset and engage Jackie (Pitt) to kill people. Er, softly.
Incidentally, it’s post–Hurricane Katrina. On television and off, everybody’s worried about the crap economy. The movie’s thugs are seemingly just murderous, amoral versions of the rest of us broke desperadoes. Okay, exactly like some of us. Even Jackie gets smacked with “recession prices”. Really? He’s an assassin. You’re messing with his pay?
Writer-director Andrew Dominik (who also made The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford with Pitt), adapted George V. Higgins’s novel Cogan’s Trade for this movie. He has an excellent feel for bad people. He likes the way they walk, talk, and spill blood. His chatty hoods angle for position, complain about stuff (James Gandolfini’s assistant assassin is notably pissy), and then beat the shit out of each other. Yes, this movie has the wickedest beating ever.
It’s all stylish, grimy, and tense. Pitt is coolly, handsomely menacing, as assassins should be. Killing sucks when it’s too “touchy-feely”, Jackie says. Agreed. And as that song on the soundtrack goes: “Well, now give me money (that’s what I want) / A lotta money (that’s what I want).” Seriously. Give me money.
Watch the trailer for Killing Them Softly.