Killing Them Softly – 4/5 Movie Reviews by Ry!

Killing Them Softly – 4/5 –  Movies with a message; they are ones that can become truly inspiration or just fall to the wayside because they will (figuratively) beat you over the head with their message.  In most cases, when it comes to these kinds of movies, you’ll be captured one way or another.  There is one thing that is certain, even if a movie has a message, it doesn’t make it a great movie.  Good thing for this movie, even for is slow moments, it is a great one with some fabulous characters.

It is 2008; the year of the election and times are rough for the US and world economy.  In the backdrop of this turmoil, the mob is trying to find ways to stay afloat in this new world.  They hold card games that are held in secret, to make money for themselves.  In one night, three dumb guys, who think they’re smart, decide to rob a Mob protected card game, causing the local criminal economy to collapse.  The mob decides to bring in an enforcer to take out these three guys, by the name of Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt).  Along the way, a message is heard loud in clear, and all Jackie Cogan wants to do is get the job done and done right.  This movie is littered with many big names from Hollywood.  Featured in this film are Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, and Vincent Curatola to name a few.  I am going to start with the main character of Jackie Cogan, played by Brad Pitt.  In this role as Jackie Cogan, Pitt gives a visceral, hard nose performance.  He is smooth, calculated and very much focused on the job at hand, even for the rough times.  Going out and performing each murder, he knows what must be done, even when the Mob are to ‘scared’ to get the job done.  His chemistry with everyone in the film is top notch, and you felt as if you were involved in each interaction.  His dialogue is scripted alongside the collapsed economy and the 2008 election.  This is gives great parallel to Cogan’s current situation because you watch deep characterization built along this turmoil.  What also develops is a strong message that Cogan has for everyone, including the mob.  For the supporting characters, they all, for the most part, do a decent job.  Ray Liotta plays the guy who runs the Card games.  He is modest in the role, but doesn’t really pop out on screen.   Richard Jenkins plays the go between for Cogan and the mob.  He brings strength to the performance, and you feel as if he is really a middle man.  When he and Pitt are on screen, the bantering and dialogue is enthralling and  is deeply message driven in there final scene.  In their interaction, you see how the economy has trickle down to their part of the world, and how they both are feeling the pinch with getting the job done, getting paid and keeping the mob afloat.  Jenkins is only on screen for a minimal amount of time, but he brings a humble and modest attitude to this role.  The one character that seemed unneeded for this movie is Mickey, played by James Gandolfini (of soprano’s fame).  He is brought in by Cogan to help take out the three players in the heist. He is a broken down character, and all he does is have sex with hookers and get drunk.  The one thing you see is he is more of an image then a character, as he portrays the downside of a broken economy.  I believe this role could have been played by anyone, as it was just a caricature for a message driven movie.  The only other stand out actor was Scoot McNairy, who plays one of the guys that involved in the Heist.  He is also a broken down man, and you because of the economy he is forced to steal from the mob.  You watch as the character mentally breaks down from the experience, and when he finally confronts Cogan, he is completely lost in fear and he pretty much knows he has only a few days to live before he gets killed.

The direction of this movie is built on precision and dialogue.  With the big message of America as a business and the strong killing the weak, you see how everything forces everyone’s hand, including the mob.  When things happen on one side of the tracks, it will affect the other.  You watch as the effects forces the mob to put all their investments into card games, and forcing scum to be brave enough to steal from people they wouldn’t.  Brad Pitt’s character is where all strings become attached, and how everything must stay course even in terrible times.  With everything being develop from dialogue and characters, there are points of the movie that can really drag for the movie audience.  This is where the reliance of the characterization and built relationships in bringing the script across is important.  If the actors/actresses aren’t good, then the dialogue parts will become boring and make the movie hard to watch.  For the most part, these occurrences are entertaining and make you think (because of the backdrop of the election and the failing economy).  If you don’t like to think, then you will have a hard time keeping up with this movie.  As mentioned before, there are parts that drag in this movie.  An example of a dull moment is the Pitt/ Gandolfini interactions.  If you can get pass this slow tide, you will stay focused till the end.  The best part of this movie is Pitt’s monologue at the end.  It brings everything into focus, and basically is the topping on the cake if you stay involved from the beginning.

The cinematography is amazing in this film.  It is set in the backdrop of New Orleans, but the depiction is out of this world.   You see the effects on the city because of the economy and election.  The city has changed, and it is dark, interesting and morally wounding.   It is eerie because of all the old buildings as well as the lighting against the grey/slightly dark colors.  Everything just feels raw and real, and you get encapsulated in the way everything is portrayed.  The score is another amazing feat.   It helps amplify the situations that happen, as well as bring out the gritty killings to the forefront.

Overall, this film is a dark, dreary encapsulated world of the mob in the 21st century.  You see how everyday politics and a real-world economy can have influence on the dark parts of the world.  Brad Pitt is outstanding as the hitman, and he brings an Oscar worthy performance to the role.  The supporting characters do well in their roles, but some felt forced and unneeded.  The direction is simplified with focus on character/dialogue, but this does add to slow and boring parts in the film.  The cinematography is truly dark, and you’re captured by the scenes because of the engrossing score.  I will recommend this film for anyone who is a fan of dialogue driven films with a message, and also fans of Brad Pitt.

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