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Killing them Softly

Posted by admin on December 4, 2012


The definition of killing someone softly is to kill someone from a distance. Rather then making a stabbing up close, they stay behind to pull a trigger instead. The belief is that the farther they are from their target, the less emotional impact it’s going to have. I have gone hunting before, and I can say that I disagree with that completely. I killed a bunny rabbit after shooting it in the woods on a Boy Scout trip. I had never harmed another animal until that day. I’m not a crazy environmentalist, but I felt bad about taking the life from something like a rabbit.

In the real world, a kill brings on dreadful consequences. The one with the blood on their shirts are the ones that have to sit in a cell for the rest of their lives. In the underground mafia world, a murder is nothing more then business. Murder has become more of a political issue then anything. The ideology of making a mafia kill is examined in Killing them Softly. This was a film I’ve been looking forward to because I thought I was going to get a black comedy about the consequence of trying to steal from the mob. What I got instead was something more confusing.

Within the misty streets of New Orleans, economic corruption is everywhere in the underground. A poker game is set up by rising criminal Markie Trattman (played by Ray Liotta) where he previously staged a robbery for his own game. Even though he admitted to having it set up, everyone else let him off the hook. Fellow player Jonny Amato (played by Vincent Curatola) wants revenge by hiring two men to rob the game for real. The problem is that Frankie and Russell are not the smartest crooks. Though sloppy with bad masks and using dishwashing gloves, they successfully steal over a hundred thousand dollars, despite warnings that retaliation is coming.

Retaliation comes in the form of a smooth taking hit man, Jackie Cogan (played by Brad Pitt). Though he also kills softly, he believes in setting balance right, even if it’s for the wrong people. He’s told that he needs to take care of Frankie, Russell, and Johnny once they figure out that nothing was staged by Markie. The instruction was to rough them up before killing them, Jackie makes to choice to kill them immediately to have everything over with.

I was hoping that Killing them Softly would be an instructing look at the economics of the underground, not to mention the fact that this is set during the 2008 presidential elections. But what I get instead is style over substance. Mimicking Drive, the film presents a gritty and very brutal tone that is perfect for a modern gangster genre. The true brutality however is the very slow pacing and often confusing storyline. I felt like that I came in to the middle of someone else’s conversation. I want to understand, but the ideas just become for complicated that I can’t enjoy myself.


I’ll give this two broken guns out of five. Killing them Softly is so dull and boring that it was practically killing me softly through exposition.


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