There’s a lot of grisly violence in Killing Them Softly, but it’s mainly a movie about men talking to men. True, the men are all slimy, small-time gangster types, and they’re talking to each other about robberies and murder, but really, it’s just a movie about gossip, and trying to out-gossip the other guy, and trying to keep out of the gossip yourself.
Brad Pitt stars as Jackie Cogan, a fixer who gets summoned by the mob when a robbery gets out of hand. His confident, brutal brilliance is a joy to watch. The other actors—from James Gandolfini as an unhinged hit man, to Ray Liotta as an unlucky middle manager, all the way down to the unfortunately named Scoot McNairy as a guy just out of prison and looking to make his reputation in the criminal underworld—are equally watchable.
Like the best film noir, Softly is a showcase for its director. Andrew Dominik tries a bunch of nifty directorial tricks, and most of them work, even if a few (particularly shitty song choices, like playing “Heroin” over a scene where characters shoot heroin, and the overuse of peppy music over depressing/gory moments) feel hoary.