"Dark and Cynical Social Criticism"

Content: -3 Excessive content and/or worldview problems.

What You Need To Know:

KILLING THEM SOFTLY stars Brad Pitt as a hitman sent to murder two drug addicts who robbed a poker game run by the mob. A shady dry cleaning owner hires two drug addicts to rob a mob poker game. They believe the mobsters will blame another gangster for the robbery. However, the mobsters figure out who did the robbery. They send an expert hitman named Jackie after the two drug addicts. Believing he needs assistance, Jackie calls in another hitman, Mickey. However, Mickey becomes too distracted by booze and women. Meanwhile, deeper levels of corruption are revealed, with the criminal underworld being compared to American politics during the 2008 election.

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.


(HH, APAPAP, LLL, VVV, SS, N, AA, DD, MMM) Strong humanist worldview that also equates American business and politics with criminal behavior; at least 171 obscenities (mostly “f” words) and 22 profanities (mostly strong); very strong violence includes multiple men killed, two men beat another man to death, man throws up blood, shooting, hitting, and blood flying and getting all over; strong sexual content includes explicit sexual commentary, implied man with prostitute, man with sexual addiction, and adultery; prostitute in skimpy clothing and upper male nudity; drinking and drunkenness; smoking, cocaine use and other illegal substances; and, lying, cheating, stealing, kidnapping.

More Detail:

KILLING THEM SOFTLY stars Brad Pitt as a hitman sent to murder two drug addicts who robbed a poker game run by the mob. KILLING THEM SOFTLY has a clear plot line: find the two men who did the robbery and get rid of them; but, its humanist worldview is dark, and it adds a criticism of American politics and business as well graphic violence, constant foul language, and strong lewd content.

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.

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