Hi, Burl here to review the movie I watched on the plane! It was called Killing Them Softly, a new picture from the director of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford! Like that picture, this one features a gun-toting Brad Pitt (well-known for his role in The Tree of Life), but this movie is a lot shorter and is trying more to be a punchy little genre movie than an artsy, beautiful meditation on Western myth and legend!
The Jesse James picture was a goody, so I was looking forward to seeing this one! It starts off with a couple of rat-like low-lives being engaged to rob a poker game run by Ray Liotta! Ha ha, one of these guys is Australian and the other isn’t! Anyway, the logic is that nobody will suspect them of being the robbers; they’ll suspect Ray Liotta, since he had earlier robbed his own poker game on the logic that nobody would suspect him!
But this time around nobody really suspects Ray Liotta because they don’t believe he’d be dumb enough to do it twice! Nevertheless, the robbery negatively impacts the local criminal economy, and Brad Pitt is sent ‘round to sort things out! Over all of this we hear news reports of the declining days of the G.W. Bush presidency and the 2008 election – speeches from Obama and Bush litter the soundtrack, reminding us that criminal enterprise is just another American business and is the capitalist system in microcosm, or possibly that the American political system is an inflated and barely disguised criminal enterprise in itself!
I have no argument with any of that, ha ha, but these are all points the Godfather movies made forty years ago! That obviousness is matched by that of the song selections heard on the movie’s soundtrack: when the death-dealing Pitt is introduced, we get the umpteenth appearance of Johnny Cash singing “The Man Comes Around,” and as the hangdog Australian is sho*ting up, what else but the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” pops up on the soundtrack! Ha ha, pretty clever choice!
But there’s lots to admire about the picture! It’s filled with solid actors doing their thing, and there’s no whiff of Tarant*no or Guy Ritchie in there, despite it being a picture about criminals talking voluminously and occasionally acting with extreme violence! The card game robbery is a suspenseful pip, and Ray Liotta, who is not given a very good time of it in this movie, gets a memorably spectacular final scene! The movie looks great (though not as great as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford!), and almost as much care was lavished on the sound effects as in Stoker!
It certainly passed the time on the plane, though I felt a little self-conscious during the incredibly violent Ray Liotta punch-up scene, and I’m prepared to give Killing Them Softly two and three-quarter dishwashing gloves!