Brief: Killing Them Softly
Killing Them Softly
This is a movie with a lot of ambition and not always enough skill to back it up. Directed by Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford), this is a heist thriller that wants to be about the inherent inequality of the American project, the disconnect between politicians and the people they serve, and this country's inability to escape its outlaw past, but mostly accomplishes this by setting its tale of violent retribution against the backdrop of Obama's 2008 campaign for the White House. There's more good here than bad, but it doesn't cohere the way Dominik clearly intended. The heist that kicks off the film's plot is excellently paced, a white knuckle affair that takes time to weigh the consequences as the actions are being taken, the soundtrack is solid, if occasionally a tad on-the-nose (a scene of one character doing heroin is scored, unsurprisingly to The Velvet Underground's "Heroin"), and the film is peppered with enjoyable, if not particularly memorable, performances from heavy weights like Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, and Richard Jenkins. The film is far more interested in conversations and political philosophy than you'd expect, and while the actors chew their dialogue fairly well, there's not always a lot of meat to what they're saying. At its best, this is a slick, artful heist movie (some of the other bursts of violence are also done incredibly well and in often interesting ways) with a lot on its mind, but at its worst it seems like an ambitious movie with a winning concept that fails in its execution.

Read more of Jordan's Film Criticism here
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