Its setting is 2008 New Orleans with TVs and radios (almost continually throughout the film) blaring then Senator Obama and President Bush‘s speeches and political messages.
Against that backdrop Ray Liotta oversees a mob-protected card game which gets robbed by a couple of flunkies.
“You know they’re going to kill you,” he tells them in fatherly fashion.
But no such luck. They get away with the entire stash—and the mob ain’t happy.
Time to engage broody, philosophical enforcer Brad Pitt to track down and deal with those responsible for the distraction from the game.
There’s another matter to consider.
Was Liotta actually IN on the robbery? After all this was a second hit on a game under his control.
Despite his pleas and assurances of innocence, the goombas beat the crap out of him.
It’s interesting to see Liotta as the aggrieved party for a change since it’s usually him who dishes out the tough medicine.
“Do me a favor. Don’t do me any favors. I see how you work.”
But back to hit man Pitt, who for various reasons decides there should be a second enforcer in the equation. Enter James Gandolfini, a booze and whore obsessed hitman who adds the film’s only light moments—if you can call them that.
“You want ass? There’s no ass like a young Jewish girl hooking.”
Other interesting performances include those of Richard Jenkins as sort of a middleman between organized crime and hired hit men and Sam Shepard appearing briefly as a local thug.
If you’re looking for a fast-paced crime thriller then this is not your movie. Instead it’s a brooding, smart tale of crimeland’s underbelly based on George Higgin‘s 1974 mob-world novel ‘Cogan’s Trade.’
KILLING THEM SOFTLY is written and directed by Andrew Dominik who previously served up THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD—which should give you a hint that this movie walks a fine line between the commercial and art market.
The character driven (very) R-rated mob-thriller with its unusually short running time of just 97 minutes, opens citywide to 3 out of 5 grimy fingers.
JACK GOES TO THE MOVIES: On Radio / On Line / On Cable-TV.