Review: Killing Them Softly

November 29, 2012, 8:12 am
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Killing Them Softly? Killing Them Slooooowly is more like it. Everything about the loaded-with-lowlives crime flick is elongated, extended to the very precipice of its expiration date.

Whether it's hit man James Gandolfini prattling on and on about his marital issues or Argo's Scoot McNairy incessant blathering about the plan to knock over a mob-run poker ring, Killing Them Slowly Softly plays like a director's cut throughout, scenes stretched out to near interminable lengths – an impressive feat given its 97 minute runtime.

Set in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, the film gets off to a smashing start with the aforementioned poker heist. It's one of the few times writer/director Andrew Dominik's slow-burn style works to perfection. Heads encased in pantyhose, McNairy and Aussie cohort Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises) hold up the joint as the tension hits heart-palpitating levels. It's Killing Them Slowly's Softly's finest hour.

Strolling on-screen to Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around", Brad Pitt is the film's goateed, hair-slicked-back bad ass/enforcer/contract killer. Hired by the venerable Richard Jenkins to clean up the mess, Pitt goes to work, taking out the trash.

And man alive does Ray Liotta ever pay the price: punched, kicked, stomped, shot multiple times through the skull, and then drilled by not one but two cars – characters in torture porn suffer less physical trauma.

Adapted from George V. Higgins' 1974 novel, Dominik's modernized marriage of the '08 financial meltdown and the underworld's business issues doesn't carry the impact he clearly intends it to have. Need we be subjected to a steady stream of Bush and Obama speeches to drive home the point Mr. Dominik?

Yeah, I get it, the collapse was tough on everyone – even the thugs.

Final Cut Score: 75%

Follow Erick on Twitter: @ErickWeber

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It was many moons ago in a darkened theater that my love of cinema took root as I snuck in to see my first R-rated film, Blade Runner. The futuristic vision that Ridley Scott unleashed on the screen was simply soul-expanding — spiritual even. From that moment, my mission to have that kind of magic strike again began in earnest. My hope is to be able to shine a light on films that may just have that kind of effect on you — films that may be lesser known, but not lesser in impact. 
             
- Erick Weber

Final Cut Scoring System
99-95% Opening night
94-90% Opening weekend
89-86% In theaters
85-83% On Demand
82-80% Netflix/Redbox
79-75% If desperate
74-70% If dozing off
69-65% If intoxicated
64-60% If comatose
Below 60% If brain dead

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