If you’re one who tracks weekend box office releases, you already know that the big one this weekend is Killing Them Softly, directed by Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jeese James by the Coward Robert Ford) and starring Brad Pitt. While the mob movie has received positive reviews and mentions of an Oscar nod for Brad Pitt’s performance, it’s not all bliss in the streets of New Orleans.
Set during the height of the financial crisis in 2008, Killing Them Softly revolves around a card game robbery and the subsequent collapse of the criminal economy in New Orleans. To assist in mending the calamity, Mob enforcer Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is called and works with other criminals (James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta to name a few) to reestablish the financial balance. As Jackie immerses himself in the street life, audiences are taken on a journey of low-end criminals, power struggles, and thug negotiations.
Reviews of the film have been mostly positive with the bulk of the praise going to Dominik’s directing and Pitt’s acting. The trouble most critics find is the movie’s lack of plot and the not-so subtle parallels between the crime economy and that of corporate America. The lay-offs, negotiations, and the ruthless boss correlations become tiresome after the point is already made. However, Dominik’s direction and Pitt’s performance provide an experience that movie-goers will appreciate if they allow themselves to just enjoy the ride.
If nothing else, what Killing Them Softly does is to remind viewers that all people are innately the same. Whether we find ourselves in crime-ridden streets or at our own cubicle, we’re never too far from the vindictive tactics of the greedy, power hungry, and ruthless.