A couple of kids rob a poker game, which stops the mobs steady stream of cash flow. This leads to the hire of a hit man named Jackie that spends the rest of the film tracking down all those involved in the robbery. It is a relatively simple plot that gets overly bloated and complicated by obtuse dialogue and hazy characters. Set in the shady parts of New Orleans, Killing Them Softly is a lil too into itself. Andrew Dominik is responsible for this structural mess with a screenplay that is hopelessly lost in its own message. Choosing to bash the audience over the head with his film’s themes, Dominik intercuts the movie with actual political speeches from the 2008 Presidential Campaign. This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t thrown in any moment that a character is looking at a T.V. screen. Not only that but the movie spends a lot of its running time divulging into the conversations of its characters. To call Killing Them Softly a “talky” film would be a huge understatement as it pauses for meaningless or over indulgent thematic conversations between characters that aren’t very interesting. These conversations spend way too long in getting their point across and then reinforcing it and then reinforcing it again. It’s hard to stay interested when the movie seems to wade to long in the deep end. Themes are great when they are subtle or obvious but Killing Them Softly would have been better as a term paper instead of a sleep inducing drama.
Brad Pitt stars as our “anti-hero” who spends most of his time smoking and drinking while discussing the state of the New Orleans low level mob scene. Not to say that Pitt disappoints here but his talents should have been used in a better movie. He is one of the best actors around but this movie doesn’t really do much for him as an actor. Then you have the supporting characters that either whine too much or aren’t really interesting at all. James Gandolfini is especially bad (in a situational sense) as a low-level mob hit man. He plays the role as a more pathetic Tony Soprano. He does nothing for the movie except consume a portion of its running time. Then you have Richard Jenkins who plays a role that doesn’t demand much out of the actor. It makes me wonder why he wasted his time on this film
Killing Them Softly does have its moments from an intense robbery to a few interesting character interactions but it is a very bleak and confusing affair. The message is obvious and yet it is so easy to forget it.