The genre of small, or independent, film seems to have never had it so good. Over the recent years, big stars and recognised directors have dabbled in the field. Some even alternate between the big studio pictures and the small indy flicks - Clooney and Soderburgh are prime examples. There is, to use Yoda's words, another - Pitt.
A champion of the non-multiplex mainstream machine, Pitt has frequently crossed over and in doing so, has delivered some of his most respected work. The last venture between him and director Dominik gave us the visually beautiful and character driven The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. Five years later and the two have collaborated again for another tale of those that operate outside of the law.
Sadly though, this is no The Assassination Of Jesse James. This latest offering would seem to be much more influenced by a different kind of "bad guy flick" altogether. Killing Them Softly is the (or at least wants to be) the younger cousin to Reservoir Dogs.
Tarrintino's debut immediately showed his love for dialogue - a mixture of the irrelevant and instantly quotable classic. His characters would endless talk about nothing and "shoot the shit" about things that had nothing to do with the plot itself. Here, Dominik - both director and screenwriter - seems to have followed suit as rambling conversations about kind-hearted prostitutes and the like litter the short-in-reality running time film but which make it ultimately make it feel like that so much longer. Normally these excerpts of dialogue would flesh out characters and make them more real for audiences to connect to, but here they just make the proceedings drag somewhat.
The other glaring resemblance to Dogs is its reliance on the more obscure choices of music and off-screen chatter. Dogs had its radio - a DJ linking tunes together whilst events unfolded upon the screen - and here the race for Presidency provides the chatter with what can only be described as an eclectic mix of tunes that blare out from the car radios. The Presidency race involving Obahma is surely to emphasis the state of the America seen on the screen that our characters are facing - decaying, degraded, dying - but this social commentary only helps to slow down the films pace and muddles the basic story of a contract killing that takes place to keep illegal gambling up and running. It's unnecessary, and at its worst, annoying.
Liotta, is, as you would hope to expect, perfect as the slimy and shady individual who causes the events to transpire, whilst Jenkins continues to clock up all the best supporting roles this year as the representative of the consortium who have to be "hand held" throughout the whole contract killing process. However, this is squarely Pitt's baby and when he's not up on the screen, he is sorely missed. Pretty much all of the films humour comes from the two "short of brain cells" criminals that are hired to rob the card game that starts events in motion, with Mendelsohn's Aussie junkie being the standout of the two. There is a scene where he and McNairy are high after the successful robbery that tries to depict the state of highness that, not unlike the whole film, is interesting but continues on so long that it loses any impact and momentum that it had.
Not like the trailer makes it out to be, Killing Them Softly is ok but not as half as cool as it wants or needs to be.
UK release date: 21.09.12