Killing Them Softly

Killing Them Softly is an unusual film which I like to think falls in the genre of ‘action admin’. Effectively what you get with these types of films is less focus on the violence, the action, the car chases etc. More of the background as to why things are happening, lengthy dialogue scenes, focus on character and plot development rather than a rip roaring parade of death and destruction. I’d liken it to Fargo, or A History of Violence. You see all the background information, these types of films are dialogue driven, so inherently are going to be fairly complex, not hugely exciting (using the word exciting very lazily) and slow.

Killing Them Softly is a fairly complex plot about planning to kill a gang boss and his henchmen. It’s James Gandolfini’s final screen appearance before he sadly passed away earlier this year (although I’m aware there is at least one final film to be released).Killing Them Softly is a criminal politics film. Nothing is ever explicitly stated, making it difficult to follow. It revolves around a decision a mob-boss makes to rob his own gambling ring in order to get insurance money out of his gang. He later openly reveals his involvement in that heist. A couple of years later, the same two men who originally robbed the gambling ring plan to do it again under the impression that the mob boss will automatically get the blame, in the knowledge that other gangsters know of his involvement. It’s decided that to restore faith and confidence within the gang, all three must face consequences of their involvement in the original heist.

The late James Gandolfini

The late James Gandolfini

Like I said, a lot of politics. Interestingly this is running alongside another politically charged thread, it’s set during Barrack Obama’s historical win and ascension to the Whitehouse. The bleakness and reality of life in America (addiction, crime, wealth) plays out against Barrack Obama’s notorious speeches of unified America. The economic problems experienced in the real world also play out in Killing Them Softly. It’s an incredibly interesting mixture of hyper-reality and glamourized media coverage of hope and patriotism and the themes explored are certainly worth attention and invested thought.

One poster for Killing Them Softly...

One poster for Killing Them Softly…

...and it's obvious reference to the Obama 'Hope' Election Campaign posters

…and it’s obvious reference to the Obama ‘Hope’ Election Campaign posters

Killing Them Softly is fairly star studded. Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta all making appearances, although never straying too far from what we are used to seeing in their other films. The film is hoisted up a few notches by it’s distinct stylistic look. There are a few sequences purely put in for artistic purposes. The slow motion gunning down of Ray Liotta, the disorientating and nauseating heroin scene. Scenes like this only enhance the slowness of the plot and story development. In some respects it allows for audiences to appreciate the artistry that goes into these types of films.

Slow motion beating scene. Truly beautiful exhibition of cinematic ability

Slow motion beating scene. Truly beautiful exhibition of cinematic ability

Killing Them Softly is a very good film, I wouldn’t go as far to say as exceptional. It’s certainly worth a look. It stands alone in recent cinema making as a nostalgic look back at 90s/early 2000s noir cinema. It’s not overly stylised like Sin City, nor is it completely straight forward like Public Enemies (for example) and for me it did evoke films like Fargo. The ‘not much to look at, not much happens’ style of the film makes it more watchable. It’s definitely not for Saturday night, get the popcorn out and veg out on the sofa kind of film, but worthy of any cinema fans time.

One thought on “Killing Them Softly

  1. Pingback: Killing Them Softly | Mainlining Media

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