Monday, December 10, 2012

Killing Them Softly

I know many folks who have praised this film, and in some ways I can see their point.  It is a character-driven movie with genuinely interesting, if in every case unlikable, characters.  It doesn't given an inch in its relentless pursuit of its political agenda or its dedication to unflinchingly and accurately portraying its sorry characters.  Director and writer Andrew Dominik gets great performances from every single actor in it.  Brad Pitt, Scott McNairy, James Gandolfini, and Ben Mendelsohn are hard to take your eyes off in even the most routine moments.  The movie is even interesting, in a watching-the-inevitable-collapse sort of way. 

It's also a step up from Dominik's previous work, the seven-day-long, excruciatingly dull failure of atmosphere over everything else, The Assassination of Jesse James by the who gives a fuck will this fucking movie ever fucking end? 

All that said, Killing Them Softly is ultimately as empty and predictable and telegraphed an empty work as the worst Adam Sandler flick. 

Yes, these are mean, petty people walking mean, petty streets.  Yes, they're all screwing each other even as an invisible overarching corporation is screwing them.  Yes, we get the analogy with America; how could we not, given that Dominik has TVs and billboards screaming his message in almost every shot?  What we don't get is any sense of suspense, or even a hint that someone in the film might gain redemption, or any reason to care.

If you enjoy Dominik's camera work, which I wavered between liking and finding so ham-handed as to be annoying, then check this movie out.  If you feel like spending time with some genuinely bad and stupid people, head to the theater.

Otherwise, give Killing Them Softly a pass. 

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