Monday, December 3, 2012

Killing Them Softly - My Review

Killing Them Softly  -  2012 -  Directed by Andrew Domink

Andrew Dominik's 2007 masterpiece The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford is in my opinion one of the best films of the last decade. So it is with great sadness to me that his new movie has plenty of flaws, some major, and they all land at his footsteps.

Brad Pitt stars as Jackie Cogan, an enforcer for the mob, who is brought in to clean up the mess after two young junkies rob a mob protected poker game. Once in town Jackie meets with a number of wiseguys to plot the best way to deal with this setback and get everyone back to spending money.

The movie, based on the novel by George V Higgins (which I read and is infinitely better than this drivel), immediately pulls itself away from the book by moving the setting to post Katrina New Orleans and setting it against the backdrop of the looming financial crisis. The director is implying that the leaders of the US have morally and financially bankrupted everyone so obviously certain types will do whatever to make it in this corrupt world  It is a tragic misstep which the film never rebounds from.

The locales in New Orleans, which is dirty, grimy, sparse and clearly devoid of money, aims to de-glamorize the world of crime until a grizzly, slow motion bloodbath glorifies the violence. Jackie speaks at length that he doesn't like to be up close and personal when killing someone but Dominik clearly does not have a problem with that. Time and time again his sensibilities creep into the festivities and bring the movie to a screeching halt. 

Howard Hawks famously said, " A good movie is three great scenes and no bad scenes." I counted numerous bad scenes (with two being horrendous - the slow motion scene and a long protracted scene involving the two junkies shooting up) and never found a good one.

The actors all to a man try their best to rise up above the material with Pitt especially, proving he is not just a star but a uniquely gifted actor, but it is to no avail. In one scene Jackie tells a colleague that the hitman they brought in to help handle the situation (James Gandolfini) is an alcoholic now and can't be trusted, and needs to be sent packing before he ruins everything. Wish someone had said that about Dominik.

Rating: 3 out of 10

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