KILLING THEM SOFTLY
Dark and Cynical Social Criticism
Release Date: November 30, 2012
Starring: Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini,
Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins,
Scott McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn,
Vincent Curatola, Sam Shepard
Runtime: 104 minutes
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Director: Andrew Dominik
Executive Producer: Megan Ellison, Matt Butan,
Bill Johnson, Jim Seibel, Bob
Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein,
Adi Shankar, Spencer Silna
Producer: Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Steve
Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz,
Writer: Andrew Dominik
Address Comments To:Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Co-Chairmen, The Weinstein Company (Radius-TWC/Dimension Films)
345 Hudson Street, 13th Floor
New York, NY 10014
Phone: (646) 862-3400; Fax: (917) 368-7000
Two drug addicts, Frankie and Russell, are working with Johnny Amato, an owner of a dry cleaning company. Johnny has the idea to rob a mob poker game, whose leader is Markie Trattman. Markie had faked a robbery on his own poker game before, robbing his fellow mobsters. This truth came out much later when Markie was drunk. The other mobsters didn’t harm Markie for this indiscretion, but said they would kill him if he did it again.
Thinking that the mobsters will instantly blame Markie for the robbery, Johnny sends Frankie and Russell to do the heist. Having a tendency not to think about the repercussions of things, Frankie and Russell do the job willingly, but come off as comical in their stupidity.
Russell and Frankie think they will just get back to their drug addicted life, but this doesn’t turn out to be the case. Jackie Cogan, played by Brad Pitt, is called in to search out and kill these two for stealing. Their lives have forever been changed, and now they have a death sentence over their heads.
Believing he needs some assistance, Jackie calls in another hitman named Mickey (played by James Gandolfini). Jackie soon realizes that Mickey is completely distracted by sex and alcohol. In fact, Mickey does nothing to get the job done but rather wastes a lot of money.
As the story unfolds, deeper levels of corruption are shown, with the mob being compared to American business and politics, as TV’s blare speeches by George Bush and Obama running for election in 2008. As Bush and Obama deliver upbeat messages, there are murders and robberies to show the irony of each President’s claim to provide stability.
KILLING THEM SOFTLY is done in a highly stylized way for a crime drama. The cinematography is aesthetically artistic. Some scenes are in slow motion, and some scenes go in and out of consciousness as they follow the subjective impressions of the two drug addicts. The dialogue is a little static, however, focusing on watching the plan to execute the robbers unfold. Though this is the case, the movie is also bloody and gritty, full of characters who kill for a living. The highly stylized filmmaking romanticizes the whole industry of killing.
KILLING THEM SOFTLY’s dark, humanist worldview portrays a corrupt world. There is no sign of redemption, morality or God. Everyone is only interested in money, power, drugs, sex, killing, etc. The movie seems to make a point that the gangster underworld has the same corrupt structure as American politics. Extreme caution is advised due to the explicit lewd dialog, drug use and graphic violence in KILLING THEM SOFTLY, but it’s the movie’s dark humanist view of America that makes the movie really unacceptable.
KILLING THEM SOFTLY is shot in a highly stylized way. The cinematography calls attention to its artistic flourishes. There is no sign of redemption, morality, or faith in KILLING THEM SOFTLY. Everyone is only interested in money, power, drugs, sex, or killing. The dark, cynical humanist worldview in KILLING THEM SOFTLY also contains constant foul language, plenty of graphic violence, and strong lewd content.