By Aaron Moran (Ireland)
‘It’s nothing personal, just business, you know.’
Business is everything no matter what kind of work you’re involved in… Plumber, Doctor, Gangster, it all boils down to hard cash or the lack thereof. I’m not sure if I believe this to be completely true but Director Andrew Dominik most certainly does. The Australian on his third feature after the originality and brutality of Chopper and then the somber brilliance of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, the director reunites with his Jesse James leading man Brad Pitt to film Killing Them Softly.
Dominik’s third feature is set in New Orleans in 2008 during Obama’s election. This piece of information is very important because the whole film is basically a metaphor for America’s own political system, this is where all the problems with the film lie because Dominik does not just make the point but he hammers it home until it feels so blatantly obvious that it becomes more irritating then insightful. Throughout the film TV’s and Radios blast out speeches from Obama and Bush and it all starts to grate your patience.
This all sounds quite negative but don’t worry the films positives outweigh its problems. This is most evident in the acting, Dominik has knack for getting terrific performance and this feature is no different. Brad Pitt is on fantastic form here as Jackie, a hitman who prefers to take his targets out from a distance to avoid all the touchy-feelings of murder. Then there’s Scoot McNairy and Scott Mendelsohn who play two degenerates looking to make a quick buck by robbing Ray Liotta’s underground card game. This is why Jackie gets called to sort out the who and why of the robbery.
The film is gorgeously shot which is in contrast to drab and dreary location its set. Dominik is known for his inventive and often genius use of visuals and Killing Them Softly is no exception. One scene involving McNairy and Mendelsohn having a conversation while both being out of their minds on heroin is superbly directed and written, while another scene that involves a brutal murder taking place between two cars with heavy rain pouring down is one of the most memorable of the year, Dominik’s use of slow motion, editing and sound design is masterful stuff.
Killing Them Softly is a great third feature from Dominik, he compliments his fantastic cast with his own exceptional directing skills to film this slow-burning, engrossing crime drama with a political message that’s too on the nose to be truly effective when all the need is Jackie’s final lines to tell the viewer all that needs to be said.