Aneesh Chaganty

“Killing Them Softly” | MAD Review

In Uncategorized on December 2, 2012 at 1:24 AM

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Killing Them Softly

(2012, US, d. Andrew Dominik)

About 50 minutes into this film, things started falling apart. But let’s backtrack a little.

Killing Them Softly is the new movie written and directed by Andrew Dominik, who hasn’t come out with a feature film since the incredible The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – also featuring Brad Pitt. From the trailers, the posters (seriously insane posters) and even the logline, this film had so much going for it. After sitting through the first 45 minutes, I was thinking that it was going to be one of the best films of the year.

What Killing Them Softly did so well in the first half the film was crack the audience up at the same time it made them squeam, gasp, groan, and increase their heart rates with the tension. There were parts in the first half of the movie, the whole audience was clapping, cheering, and screaming. Sounds like a tall task, but Dominik makes it look easy. Not only does he make it look easy, he makes it look good. The cinematography in this film will blow you away. On the drive home, I was told they shot it on film, which I still didn’t believe considering what they were able to pull off.

And then the rest of the movie happens. The problem with the rest of the movie is that it thinks it’s a lot better than it actually is. The number of monologues start to increase. Dialogue takes supreme precedence over the action – but this dialogue is not dialogue that pushes the plot forward; it’s dialogue that nails the audience over the head with the theme of the piece. Never before have I seen a movie with such blatant thematic overtones. Yes, this was the point and there were moments (particularly the last scene), where it worked in its favor, but Dominik takes it way too far. In fact, by the end, I was left wondering: was this a film about capitalism and greed (as it was intended to be) or just a film about nihilism?

On a side note, whoever let James Gandolfini take up 25 minutes of this film in a monologue about his sexual experiences and alcoholic tendencies needs to reevaluate their creative priorities.

I’m excited to give this film a second viewing. Considering how much thought and analysis was put into every frame, I think it deserves that much. And again, I want to reinforce how brilliant the first half of this film was. I’d see it again just for that. But if you’re looking for something more emotionally fulfilling – even if it’s on the nihilistic scale – I’d just stick to Burn After Reading.

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