On Friday, November 30, 2102 a new gangster movie which premiered at the Cannes film festival in May will hit theaters nationwide. Killing Them Softly is the latest project from writer and director Andre Dominik. The film is an adaptation of the George V. Higgins 1974 novel Cogan’s Trade.
Not only does Killing Them Softly feature a strong violent and typical gangster film storyline but the film offers strong political commentary as well. Even though the film is based on a book from the 1970s, the movie’s plot takes place during the 2008 Presidential election. The film features footage of President Obama and President George W. Bush giving speeches during key scenes in the film. For example, during the poker game robbery scene, President Bush can be heard saying on a television in the room, “This is an extraordinary period for America’s economy.”
The film centers around the story of three criminals Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola), Frankie (Scoot McNairy), and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn),who rob a mob run poker game. The film then follows the robbers as they go on the lam while hit man Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) and his partner Mickey (James Gandolfini) try to take out them out and make an example out of the trio. The story is kind of reminiscent of the true story of the Bonnie and Clyde couple Thomas and Rose Marie Uva. The couple were notorious for robbing mob social clubs in New York until their demise on Christmas Eve in Ozone Park Queens, in 1992 when they were both shot to death.
Killing Them Softly features a cast of some recognizable faces in the gangster genre.Brad Pitt (Babel) portrays hit man Jackie Cogan, James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) portrays gangster Mickey, Ray Liotta (Goodfellas) as Markie Trattman, Vincent Curatola (The Sopranos) as Johnny Amato and Max Casella (Boardwalk Empire) as Barry Caprio.
The film is a smart crime drama with a strong emphasis on the economic crisis taking place in America. A popular quote from the film is a response from Pitt’s character Cogan. While listening to President Obama speak on the television, Cogan says, “America’s not a country, it’s just a business.”
Both Pitt and director Dominik worked together before, on the film: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Rober Ford.”
Killing Them Softly has received mostly favorable reviews from critics. Critic Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian gave the film 5 stars and said the film is a “compelling comment on economic bloodletting in the real world.”
The Weinstein Company is distributing the film in the United States and Canada. Killing Them Softly is the first feature film to use Kodak’s 500T 5230 film stock.
With very strong performances from Pitt, Liotta and Gandolfini, the film should be a hit amongst gangster film fans and critics. The true political and economic sub plot of the film will help audiences relate to it. This is one new gangster film worth taking a look at for several reasons.