“Killing Them Softly,” director Andrew Dominik’s tale of a poorly thought-out heist and the mob enforcer (Brad Pitt) who has to clean up the mess, has proven to be a divisive film when it comes to the critics. Some have heralded the rise of a modern classic, while many, many others can’t stand the heavy-handed allegory at the heart of the theme.
Whether the parallels to the 2008 financial collapse hold down the latest from Pitt and his “Assassination of Jesse James” director or raise it up is up to you, but this is what the critics are saying about “Killing Them Softly.”
“This is one of those effortless Pitt performances that exemplify how beautifully he manages to be both a serious actor and a superstar; the slicked-back hair, aviator sunglasses and gold chains are a showy shorthand to signify he’s a dangerous guy, but the consistently surprising choices he makes with the rat-a-tat dialogue reveal his character’s intelligence.” — Christy Lemire, The Associated Press
“Dominik is two directors in one, really: He’ll sit back and content himself with framing simple, clean two-person verbal sequences when called for. He’s also skillful in staging violence on the move, as in the scene where Liotta’s bantamweight bigwig is dragged through and then out of his office trailer by extreme force. The picture offers some easy, brutal laughs and some harder ones, and now and then, it finds a way to make the laughter stick in your craw.” — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
“It’s a clumsy device, a feint toward significance that nothing else in the movie earns. Perhaps the bankers and speculators who ruined the economy are linked in some way to the punks and lowlifes who ruin themselves, and maybe Cogan is the allegorical double of Ben Bernanke. Anything is possible, since the movie is more concerned with conjuring an aura of meaningfulness than with actually meaning anything.” — A.O. Scott, The New York Times
The Final Word
“Everything in ‘Killing Them Softly’ that springs from George V. Higgins’ 1974 crime novel ‘Cogan’s Trade’ is very fine: grimly amusing then shockingly brutal. It’s when New Zealand-born director and screenwriter Andrew Dominik veers off course to give us his deep thoughts on the American character that it’s a head-slapper. The effect is genuinely odd.” — David Edelstein, New York
Check out everything we’ve got on “Killing Them Softly.”
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