Plot summary (from the studio): Three dumb guys who think they’re smart rob a Mob protected card game, causing the local criminal economy to collapse. Brad Pitt plays the enforcer hired to track them down and restore order. KILLING THEM SOFTLY also features Richard Jenkins (THE VISITOR), James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos”), Ray Liotta (NARC), Scoot McNairy (MONSTERS), Ben Mendelsohn (ANIMAL KINGDOM), and Vincent Curatola (“The Sopranos”). Max Casella, Trevor Long, Slaine and Sam Shepard also make appearances.
Warning: Spoilers below!
- Despite the presence of several bigger names in the cast, I thought Scoot McNairy was a standout. At first, his voice sort of reminded me a bit of Casey Affleck, but once I got beyond that, I was able to appreciate his wonderful performance.
- I liked the inevitability of the outcome. The three bozos that orchestrated the heist never had a chance in hell of getting away with it, so the viewer knows what’s coming. Nevertheless, the screenplay didn’t feel predictable in any way.
- I didn’t know James Gandolfini was in this before I rented it as the iTunes $.99 movie of the week. It was a bit saddening to experience his larger-than-life screen presence knowing that the actor had just succumbed to a heart attack in real life.
- The violence in the Ray Liotta beating scene was a little over the top for my tastes.
- Brad Pitt has become another Tom Cruise to me. In other words, his personal life will always overshadow what he does on the screen, making it very difficult for me to enjoy any of the scenes he’s in. (Plus, I hate his long-haired, scruffy look. He’s too old for that.)
- Some of the scenes were drawn-out and boring, bordering on pointless. I wasn’t expecting end-to-end action or anything, bu there were too many “talking head” scenes here, which threw the pacing off.
I hadn’t read much about Killing Them Softly before renting it, so I didn’t have any preconceived notions going in. Some good performances, a mostly interesting story line, and desperate characters living in grim circumstances helped offset the trouble spots I listed above. I give this one 3 stars out of 5.