Killing Them Softly (18, 97 mins) Thriller/Action Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini Director: Andrew Dominik Released: Friday September 21
Crime does pay and the price tag is your life in Killing Them Softly, an artfully composed, slow-burning crime thriller based on the novel Cogan’s Trade by George V Higgins.
Writer-director Andrew Dominik, who previous helmed The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, transplants the setting of the book from 1970s Boston to 2008 Louisiana, using the race for the White House between President George W Bush and Barack Obama as a backdrop to the skulduggery.
Television sets continuously spew out sound-bites from the two politicians.
“Each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will,” affirms Obama in one keynote address, which some of the characters take to heart and suffer the direst of consequences.
Dominik reunites with Brad Pitt to delve deep into the psyches of men who operate on the wrong side of the law, and he elicits a strong performance from his leading man.
Indeed, the entire ensemble cast is in excellent form, including James Gandolfini as a hit man who has allowed his penchant for booze and women to cloud his killing instinct.
It’s a deliciously dishevelled world away from his celebrated role as a New Jersey mob boss in The Sopranos.
Killing Them Softly is punctuated with brilliantly orchestrated and stylish explosions of violence, including a breathtaking slow-motion car crash.
Unlike other film-makers who are in a hurry to get to the action set-pieces, Dominik allows conversations to breathe: veiled threats hang in the air, murderous glances are held uncomfortably long and every scene crackles with tension.
And we teeter nervously on the edge of our seats for the entire 97 minutes.
n Swearing, No Sex, Violence n Rating: 8/10