Strumming Their Pain With His Trigger Finger.
Starring: Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, James Galdofini & Sam Shepard. Director: Andrew Dominik.
"This is America..." Brad Pitt's character tells Richard Jenkins' in 'Killing Them Softly', "...and in America you're on your own". This notion could be arguably be attributed to Hollywood's biggest star who is still somewhat disregarded in this movie industry, despite his worldwide fame as one of the most famous faces in acting. Brad Pitt may be one of the biggest names around like his 'Ocean's' co-star George Clooney but still like his partner in crime his talent in still somewhat underrated.
He belongs with the Leonardo DiCaprios as the best in the game, but still some play him-like they did Leo-as just a pretty boy turned good. They should be thinking great. Perhaps they haven't seen his medicated magnificence in 'Twelve Monkeys' or the punches he pulls in 'Fight Club'. Nor his conflicted classic, flawless finale in the devilishly good 'Seven', or his latest out of the park big swing with 'Moneyball' to name just a select few. Just wait until these same people and critics are shot down by his chilling, killer performance in 'Killing Them Softly'.
No this is not a film about that rap group the Fugees, but instead a refugee of the law as Brad complete with all chain-smoking leathers, sinister, slicked back hair and hard worn beard plays a hitman that brings more darkness and death than a late Johnny Cash song. And they're the type of 'American Recordings' (see the trailer or Brad's opening act at least 20 minutes in) that make for the perfect soundtrack backdrop. When this man comes around you know there's trouble and when he takes names few will be free amongst the blamed. As he says he "likes to kill them softly...from a distance", and as Brad goes the distance like a 'Moneyball' strike he really hits home.
The rising city of New Orleans serves as a beautiful but brutal backdrop in a noir thriller that even scares the crap out of mafia veteran Ray Liotta. He, plus Soprano legend James Gandolfini, Jenkins and two guys pulling the job make for a great cast in a slow burner that ignites with the switch-click of a lighter towards ashes to ashes action before the last cigar. Through blowing smoke to putting everyone's lights out it's Pitt who illuminates, the shining star coolly walking amongst fireworks before a monologue closer as thrilling as the climax.
Set in the changing times of America from Bush's fall to Obama's elected rise this film has some political points of its own to make too. From the distorted, smack the side of the T.V. start it all gets as drawn out and sinister as Pitt's slow motion, stop camera, stop beat scenes. This bleak picture is delivered in a bold and brilliant way, from robberies more akward than a bad first date to cold calculated killings with clinical precision. From Tarantino like conversations to rain soaked classic cars this is a trip through past and present Americana. Talking the talk and muscling up for with the best this is real thriller that pays homage to the greats. Delivered with execution this murder tale does things the hard way. TIM DAVID HARVEY.