Movie Review: KILLING THEM SOFTLY - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Terry's Take

Movie Review: KILLING THEM SOFTLY

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Brad Pitt plays a hitman in KILLING THEM SOFTLY, a new crime drama that's not doing well at the box office. And it's not hard to see why.

The movie is a dark, violent, character driven drama about men who commit crimes for a living. It's not mainstream entertainment; it's an art film by a filmmaker who believes that crime is capitalism in its most brutal form.
 
The plot is set in motion by two young fools who rob an illegal card game run for the mob by Markie, played by Ray Liotta. (One robber is a parolee; the other is a drug addict who steals pure bread dogs and then sells them in another state.) Markie robbed this same card game himself awhile back, and the pair figures he'll be blamed for this new holdup.

So even though Markie is innocent this time, he pays. The Mob sends two men to exact revenge, and the vicious beating Markie takes is so brutal I had to turn my eyes away from the screen.

But the unseen mob bosses soon figure out who really did rob their card game. and they send Richard Jenkins, who is like a corporate middle manager, to  hire Jackie, the hitman played by Brad Pitt.  They meet in a car under a freeway viaduct in the rain.
 
Jackie: You ever kill anyone?
Jenkins: No.
Jackie: It can get touchy feely.
Jenkins: Touchy feely?
Jackie: Emotional, not fun. a lot fuss. They cry, they plead, they beg….they call for their mothers. It gets embarrassing. I like to kill 'em softly, from a distance, not close enough for feelings.

Obviously, Jackie is not your typical hitman. but Mickey, the out-of-town killer played by James Gandolfini, has no such scruples. Jackie convinces the mob to hire Mickey for one of the killings, not realizing that Mickey has become a drunk whose life is falling apart. He's just no longer capable of taking someone's life.
 
So Jackie must handle the whole mess himself though he's smart enough to force one of his would-be victims to help.
 
As artful as this film is, KILLING THEM SOFTLY lacks the leavening humor of a film like PULP FICTION even though it's set in the same grim, heartless, crime ridden world Quentin Tarantino depicts so vividly.
 
Jenkins: This is a business of relationships.
Jackie: Don't make me laugh. I'm living in America and in America you're on your own.
 
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.    e mail: thunter@hawaiinewsnow.com