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Killing Them Softly


Stars: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ben Mendelsohn, Sam Shepard, Vincent Curatola, Garret Dillahunt

Director: Andrew Dominik

A heavy duty crime story whose gangsters and hit-men talk, talk, talk. The opening sequence has small-time crook Frankie (McNairy) trying to persuade his employer (Curatola) to take on his spaced-out Aussie mate (Mendelsohn) in a scheme to heist the money from a gambling den run by Markie (Liotta). The idea is that Markie, who has admitted to robbing his own game before, will be the prime suspect.

Naturally, the Mob accountant (Jenkins) and his chief enforcer (Pitt) soon suss out the real culprits, though they decide Markie must be eliminated anyway, after a 'talk'. 'Why beat him up?' complains Pitt with some justification. 'That's not going to be very nice for Markie. Either way, he's dead.'

As co-hitman, Pitt calls for Mickey (Gandolfini), but finds him drowning in booze and hookers. Mickey is pretty much a superfluous character and drifts out of the film, although he does last longer than Shepard, who has only one scene.

So the dirty deeds are all left to Pitt. 'I like to kill 'em softly,' he says, giving the film its title. 'From a distance. I don't like it close up. They cry. They piss themselves. They call for their mothers.'

The film's little flashes of action are certainly brutally fierce and brilliantly staged, but these are unconvincingly philosophical criminals, and their dialogue scenes are dragged out for much more than they're worth. A nice, crisp ending, though, to round off the film, while Pitt and the less well-known McNairy both give strong performances.

David Quinlan

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Entertainment. Colour by deluxe.
97 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 20 Sep 2012