Killing Them Softly review

Again, another film which wasn’t on the top 1000 greatest films of all time, but it was on TV one night and seeing as it stars James Gandolfini, whom my dad and I both love in the Sopranos, we thought we would watch it.

John “Squirrel” Amato hires two druggie deadbeats: Russell and Frankie, to rob a Mafia poker game ran by Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta.) Even though, the robbery is successful, the Mafia then decide to kill Squirrel, Trattman, Russell and Frankie.  This where two contract killers, Jackie Coogan (Brad Pitt) and Mickey (James Gandolfini) are hired to do the job.  The film is set in 2008 amidst the financial crisis and the Bush/Obama presidential campaign.

The film is funny in places.  Frankie and Russell are complete deadbeats and are incompetent in almost all aspects of their lives and as such, injected a lot of the film’s humour.  This humour was important in not letting the movie become too dark and sobre.

Even though, the film had potential, it never really came together.  What let it down the most was that it never really felt like a film.  It was closer to a clipshow comprised of unrelated scenes and events.  The way the film cut from unconnected scene to unconnected scene which gave it a very fragmented and disjointed feel.

Another negative of this film was that there wasn’t an obvious protagonist.  There wasn’t one character who you followed through the film.  Even though, Brad Pitt had star billing, he doesn’t appear until about a third into the film.  I was also very disappointed with James Gandolfini’s inclusion.  He barely appears and when he does, he contributes very little to the actual plot.

I also felt that the film tried too hard in being artistic and creative, which hurt rather than helped it.  For example, when Jackie Coogan kills Markie Trattman  by shooting him through his car window, the whole scene is in slow motion and there are something like ten different shots of the bullet leaving Coogan’s gun.  I felt like that the time spent on this scene could have been better spent elsewhere.

I also didn’t like how the film ended.  With Obama’s inauguration speech and discussion of America as a community playing in the background, Jackie Coogan becomes progressively angrier at his employer who is holding out on him.  Coogan calls bullshit on Obama’s speech, arguing that America is a capitalist, dog-eat-dog world, where it is every man for himself.  This is where the film ends. Whilst I see what they were going for, the ending was too abrupt and left me feeling very underwhelmed.

A film with potential that failed to live up to expectations.  It had promise, but was executed poorly.

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