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Killing Them Softly [Blu-ray]

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Product details

  • Actors: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta
  • Directors: Andrew Dominik
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Entertainment in Video
  • DVD Release Date: 25 Feb. 2013
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00A6VGLI8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,986 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Brad Pitt stars in this darkly comic thriller based on a 1974 George V. Higgins crime novel. Jackie Cogan (Pitt) is a professional 'point man' - that is, the investigator who prepares the way for a hitman - who is assigned to track down a pair of junkies who have ripped off a mob-protected poker game. The star-studded supporting cast includes Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini, Scoot McNairy and Sam Shepard.


Based on Killing Them Softly's somewhat misleading promotional campaign, expectant audiences may have thought they were in for an action-driven crime thriller. There's plenty of grit, street life, gangland lingo, and nuts-and-bolts criminal insiderism, but the overall tone is more akin to a David Mamet play than a rollicking Hollywood shoot-'em-up.

The movie is an adaptation of the fine George V. Higgins novel Cogan's Trade, and it nicely transposes the tone and delivery of Higgins's spare prose into a visual style that keeps a long, lingering gaze on its unlovable bad guys. It also holds an attentive ear to the rhythm and pattern of their speech, turning the extended stretches of dialogue into unique tableaux of stylish exchanges between hit men, lowlife punks, and middle management gangsters. These scenes of hushed talk are infused with deeper meaning, not to mention lots of wit, and they make up the bulk of the film, whether in cars, bars, or hotel rooms or on street corners.

Brad Pitt is a sleek and enigmatic presence as Jackie Cogan, a professional killer who's as exasperated by the stupidity around him as he is obsessed with the details of doing his job right. After an odd couple of hapless losers (Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn, who are a hoot) hit a mob-run card game, Jackie is called in to clean up the mess. Richard Jenkins is in terrific form as the befuddled mob accountant who reluctantly gives him the assignment. Thinking he'll need help with the job, Jackie enlists his long-time associate Mickey. But as inhabited by James Gandolfini, Mickey turns out to be a slovenly mess who Jackie clearly sees is past his prime. There are two long, highly oblique scenes between Pitt and Gandolfini that crackle with greatness. Also in the soup of clouded meaning and distinctive formal structure is Ray Liotta as Markie, the boob who runs the card game. A rain-soaked scene that has Markie at the four-fisted end of a brutal beat-down is one of the most vicious and visually poetic fights ever seen.

The master of all the talking, fleeting sequences of grisly violence and philosophizing about financial downfall and change (the movie is set on the cusp of 2008's economic crisis and presidential campaign) is director Andrew Dominik. Much as he did in 2007's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (also starring Brad Pitt), Dominik is much more interested in the nuanced detail of manner and attitude than the physical action that results. That's not to say that Killing Them Softly doesn't excel at the remarkable execution of classic crime-drama set pieces. But the movie and its characters take a lot of time to hang back and observe and listen to get at the real meaning of how things happen and why. It's a process that's fascinating to watch, no matter how trivial the detail or how shocking the result. --Ted Fry

Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By THE MOVIE GUY on 14 May 2013
Format: DVD
Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola) runs a dry cleaning business and is a low level crime entrepreneur. He hires two guys to rob a poker game filled with organized criminals. Frankie (Scoot McNairy) is the lead robber, a man who is a Steve Buscemi type. He has help from an unkempt Australian junkie friend named Russell (Ben Mendelsohn), who walks pets for a living. He hopes to be a drug dealer to change his life.

The reason why they believe they can get away with the job is because Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta) had done this job once before. He will surely be blamed. After the job is pulled, hitman Jackie (Brad Pitt) is brought in to sort things out and make things right. Jackie is thoughtful, soft spoken, and cynical. Since he knows Johnny, he hires Mickey (James Gandolfini) to do the job, a man who has multiple issues.

There are a number of things which set this film apart from other crime movies. First is the dialouge. It is clear the people are uneducated, except for Jackie who speaks as if he lives in two worlds. The ignorance of the robbers is brought to light when they wear bright yellow cleaning gloves to perform their task.

The second aspect is the background sound on both the radio, TV, and jukeboxes. It is the macrocosm of what is happening on the screen, and sometimes in an ironic fashion. The time period is the 2008 election season during the financial collapse. We hear "restore confidence in the financial system" and "it's all too familiar" on the radio when Markie is about to take the fall. Every time "B" actor Ray Liotta got punched or kicked, I would think, This is for "Entitled" or This is for "Ticket Out." Here is one for "The Son of No One."

The symbolism of the background announcements is brought to light at the end, in case you failed to catch it in the opening scene. A smart film for people who enjoy crime dramas.

Parental Guide: F-bombs, no sex, no nudity. Blood splatter, killing, beatings.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Aman on 30 Sept. 2014
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
American capitalism is damaging. It's destructive to those it takes away from and those it gives to. And no one can stop it. That's the message Andrew Dominik's neo-noir crime thriller Killing Them Softly sends and he delivers it so with gruelling mordancy. This is an intelligent, confident, dialogue-driven film that will not appeal to all and is the reason why many do not appreciate it.

Cast back to the financial crises of 2007-2008. A time when the presidential election was underway, and the recovery from the damage caused by unregulated free markets was used as the main driving force to convince American's that they, above and amongst all the political and economic turmoil, "are one." The film uses the criminal underworld as one extended metaphor for this; those men who have made money in a damaged economy, where the American Dream is purely just that, gamble it in an attempt to obtain more when it can be lost easier than it can be made. Life, financially, is very uncertain here. Enter the drug-addled, low-life dregs of society; the underbelly; desperate men (Frankie and Russell, played by Scoot McNairey and Ben Mendelsohn, respectively) who possess an even greater motive for making it their own when they have nothing. Frankie and Russell represent, like all the characters in this film, symbolic figures in capitalism's chess and pawn game. Trapped in a bubble, evidently of their own wrongdoing, they struggle to find decent employment, made clear by Frankie's complaining of being unable to find a suitably located job, and any ones further away are marred by his inability to fund transport; lifestyle choices are prioritised based on scarce disposable income and crime is, as for many, the last but only resort for him.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 May 2013
Format: DVD
This was a film like no other. What we have here is the Mob, killers for hire, low men looking for easy money, and in the background, Barack Obama speaking of the country that needs to unite into one community. This is a recession, and in the city of New Orleans.

I did not find any of these characters attractive, not in to be around, just grim and deadly. Brad Pitt plays a hitman, come to town to take care of three characters who mussed up the works. A poker game was hit and the minions who pulled the job need to be taken care of. Marie Trattman played by Ray Liotta is a man with a big problem. Richard Jenkins plays the driver, some sort of middle man who makes the deals. He hires Pitt and James Gandolfini as the hitman to make the mark. Gandolfini is havering relationship problems and is so depressed,he is drinking himself into a mess. Action needs to occur and Pitt is there to make sure it does.

The message of this film appears to be two fold. One: America is a business, just like the Mob. Two: the Mob and Politics are sometimes one and the same. When there is a financial Depression, the Mob suffers as much as the country. Make if this what you will. Superb acting by all. Plenty of blood and violence for all looking for this sort of thing.

Recommended. prisrob 05-29-13
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alexander J. R. Davidson on 8 Oct. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
a very odd film but very good all the same. it has an amazing cast list and it shows the underside of a us national organisation
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charles Vasey TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 Jan. 2015
Format: DVD
If the Godfather showed the mob as opera, it has been downhill since, and no further down than this interesting film. Two very stupid people get together with Johnnie Sac to hit a poker game. We know they are very stupid from the 20 minutes plus of sub-Dumb & Dumber conversation liberally spiced with cursing. Try not to give up on the film at this point, because it gets better, though not noticeably less vulgar. The denouement is not really surprising but very cinematically realised. It's noire, but in colour. En route James Gandolfini reprises his moody gangster, Ray Liotta takes a beating, Brad Pitt is unusually together, and a host of other actors do their piece. Richard Jenkins is very good as the contact to the gamblers arranging the vengeance much as he might book a catering firm. With a running background of the 2008 Presidential Election the whole piece has a wonderfully discordant feel. And it ends before the story ends, just as it should.
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