The body count piles high as Hollywood nice-guy Brad Pitt digs in to his darkest role yet.
Brad Pitt, 48, has always said he doesn’t want to play the hero with the gun who defuses the bomb in the nick of time. He’s proved as much again in his new film, Killing Them Softly (opening Nov. 30). We were at the NYC screening hosted by The Cinema Society with Men’s Health and DeLeón Tequila.
The megastar’s newest character may indeed carry a gun, but he is certainly no hero. Brad plays Jackie, a hit-man hired to clean up the mess after a pair of bumbling crooks rob a mob-owned poker room.
Jackie is a cool, remorseless, soberly professional mafia enforcer who takes out underworld lowlifes in scenes staged with artful violence. It’s a lot of fun to watch Brad embrace his inner baddie — donning a leather jacket, goatee, a cigarette permanently dangling from his mouth as he dryly designs one cold blooded murder after another.
But the movie isn’t just a crime caper. All the action is undercoated with background radio and TV news reports from the 2008 presidential election — a then-candidate Obama orating loftily about hope, change, and the unity of American people bound by common interest.
The point of all this political chatter is to suggest that the idea of America as a place where people can work together, is for suckers. As Jackie puts it, “America isn’t a country — it’s a business!”
Killing Them Softly is a gangster movie for the financial crisis era that tries to say there really isn’t much difference between the criminal economy of drug addicts, killers, and cons, and mainstream American life idealized by eager politicians.
It’s not exactly a subtle point — but almost nothing in this film is subtle. The killings perpetrated by Brad’s baddie are slowed down to the extreme to bear every CG detail as brains splatter from the skulls of crooks less savvy than Jackie in this kill-or-be-killed parallel world. And to his credit, director Andrew Dominic (The Assassination of Jesse James) definitely knows how craft a disgustingly beautiful homicide.
With its pulpy and sometimes darkly funny crime-world grit, Killing Them Softly doesn’t have a hard time executing mob-movie swagger and style. It just might not need to load both barrels when it sets its sights on substance.
— Gino Orlandini
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