By Dave Steele
As America teeters on the edge of the 2008 Great Recession, small-time crime boss Johnny Amato wants to hire his former associate Frankie for a new job that could reward the parties involved heavily.
The two plan on hitting a mob-protected card game with a pot of nearly $100K in cash.
Frankie decides to bring along his only friend, Russell, a dribbling junkie from Australia, to help finish the job.
When the two pull off a seemingly clean getaway, they go their separate ways after splitting the pot with Johnny.
Several months go by without incident; Frankie gets a new car and Russell is doping his brains out. Life seems good. After heading down to Florida to pick up a kilo of smack, Russell gets cocky and begins bragging to his dealer about the hit on the mob’s card game.
To his misfortune, one of the dealers’ associates has had a previous relationship with the very same mob. Now that their identities are no longer a secret, the two derelicts shoot straight to the top of the mob’s hit list.
Hired gunman Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is contracted by the mob to clean house now that the criminal economy is in shambles.
From a technical standpoint, “Killing Them Softly” in enthralling. Everything from the engagingly intimate camera placement to the darkly humorous script is carefully set into place by director Andrew Dominik and cinematographer Greig Fraser.
Dominik’s script is very “bada-bing-bada-boom” and the banter between its leads is as hilarious as is it is disturbing.
“Killing them Softly’s” superior production value is also worth noting. Executive Producer Brad Pitt brings together a team that really gives the audience a coarse look into the world of organized crime. While Pitt’s delivery as the snide Cogan may seem indulgent, his entire performance is pulled together with a one-liner before the credits that will really get audiences thinking about the film’s deeper meaning.
The film’s political undertone creates a captivating parallel between the nation’s financial system and the inner workings of the mob.
However, “Killing them Softly” almost dives too deep. The underlying message is so profound that it leeches away at the meat of the plot.
This will be welcomed with open arms by seasoned moviegoers but will leave casual audiences frustrated and confused.
Overall, the film is a beautifully dark (and sometimes hilarious) rendition of how indulgent choices and brutal consequence affect our economy, as well as our lives.
Unfortunately, the scale of its deeper meaning leaves the plot starved and abandoned.