Killing Them Softly *1/2

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“Killing Them Softly” is a serious disappointment. I really have grown to enjoy Andrew Dominik’s work over the years. His Jesse James movie, starring Brad Pitt, has gotten better every time I have watched it. “Killing Them Softly” is an unfocused mess of a film punctuated by solid performances.

The story is about as basic as it gets. Two low level criminals knock over a mob funded card game. The guys that they stole the money from hire a hit man to find them and take them out. There are no surprises here. Everything plays out exactly as I described it.

How did they turn that in to a 90 minute film you ask? By dragging it out with a series of long and convoluted conversations that take place in cars, pubs and dreary sets.

Occasionally there is an over the top murder that really adds nothing to the movie. Director Andrew Dominik seemed to be more interested in these moments as opposed to developing a truly complex story with compelling characters.

Take for example when Brad Pitt’s character is hired to kill the idiots responsible for the robbery, he calls in back up in the form of James Gandolfini. When Gandolfini arrives on the scene, he turns out to be a drunken mess who is depressed over his marriage. He eventually drinks himself out of the movie. What was the point of even having his character show up? I am uncertain.

My other problem was with the constant political commentary featured in the background of almost every scene. What was the point of that? Yes I am certain that the mob was hit hard by the recession as well but the movie never really tried to incorporate that in to the fabric of the story. It is simply a running commentary.

I have to say that the trailer for this movie was one of the best of the year. The movie is far from that. It is slow and dreary. Thankfully it is only 90 minutes.

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