Killing Them Softly

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Not to be confused with the 2002 erotic thriller Killing Me Softly (film).
Killing Them Softly
Killing Them Softly poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Andrew Dominik
Produced by
Screenplay by Andrew Dominik
Based on Cogan's Trade 
by George V. Higgins
Starring
Music by Jonathan Elia & David Wittman
Cinematography Greig Fraser
Edited by Brian A. Kates
John Paul Horstmann
Production
  company
Annapurna Pictures
1984 Private Defense Contractors
Plan B Entertainment
Chockstone Pictures
Distributed by The Weinstein Company
Release date(s)
  • May 22, 2012 (2012-05-22) (Cannes)
  • November 30, 2012 (2012-11-30) (United States)
Running time 97 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million[2][3]
Box office $37,470,591[3]

Killing Them Softly is a 2012 American neo-noir crime film directed by Andrew Dominik and starring Brad Pitt, based on the 1974 novel Cogan's Trade by George V. Higgins. On May 22, 2012, the film premiered in competition for the Palme d'Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, receiving positive early reviews.[4][5]

Plot[edit]

In the fall of 2008, amidst both the American financial crisis and the presidential election campaign, a man named Johnny "Squirrel" Amato (Vincent Curatola) plans to rob an illegitimate poker game. He enlists Frankie (Scoot McNairy), a former business associate, and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn), a heroin addicted Australian expatriate who is stealing purebred dogs for money, to perform the robbery. Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta), the proprietor of a poker ring, is revealed to have previously orchestrated an inside job by paying two men to rob his own illegal poker room. He holds up under rough questioning by the hitman Dillon (Sam Shepard); though later he openly admits his involvement to various criminal figures and suffers no retaliation. Squirrel anticipates that the Mafia will automatically blame Markie for the heist.

Frankie and Russell, though obviously amateurs to the task, complete the holdup with no problems.

Driver (Richard Jenkins), an emissary for the Mafia, discusses the recent robbery with an acquaintance of Dillon, a hitman named Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt). Although Jackie understands Markie was uninvolved in the heist, he believes Markie should be murdered in order to restore the mobsters' confidence in the local gambling scene.

Upon completing the crime, Russell travels to Florida to sell the dogs. While in Florida, he inadvertently informs a man named Kenny Gill (Slaine) of his involvement in the heist while trying to recruit him as a dealer. Kenny informs Jackie, who implicates Russell, Frankie, and Squirrel as the true perpetrators. All of this occurs during a backdrop of televised speeches given by then-President George W. Bush and then-Senator Barack Obama made during the 2008 US Presidential election.

Jackie brings in another hitman, Mickey Fallon (James Gandolfini), who is on parole in New York, to kill Squirrel. Jackie explains to Driver how he prefers "killing them softly"—shooting his victims without warning, giving them no opportunity to experience fear or despair—and that his acquaintance with Squirrel risks complicating this approach.

Jackie kills Markie in a drive-by shooting, but soon becomes frustrated with Mickey's lechery and alcoholism. He convinces Driver to arrange Mickey's arrest before the job has been completed.

Russell is arrested on a drug possession charge and presumably deported; meanwhile, Jackie confronts Frankie and convinces him to trade Squirrel's whereabouts for his life. Jackie has Frankie drive him to Squirrel; upon reaching Squirrel's apartment complex, he dispatches both Squirrel and Frankie.

On the night of the election, Jackie meets with Driver to collect his fee. Jackie makes references to Barack Obama's victory speech, contrasting it with how Jackie sees the country. When Driver refuses to pay Jackie in full, he angrily demands payment, declaring emphatically that "America's not a country... It's just a business," and demands his money. The film fades to black, leaving the issue unresolved.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Killing Them Softly is based on the 1974 novel Cogan's Trade by George V. Higgins, best selling novelist of crime novels, including The Friends of Eddie Coyle. Cogan's Trade, like Higgins' other novels, takes place in Boston; although filmed in New Orleans area, characters in Killing Them Softly make several references to Boston area suburbs from the original novel. The film was written and directed by Andrew Dominik, who chose to update the setting of the story, saying "as I started adapting it, it was the story of an economic crisis, and it was an economic crisis in an economy that was funded by gambling—and the crisis occurred due to a failure in regulation. It just seemed to have something that you couldn't ignore."[6]

The project was first announced in November 2010 when Brad Pitt was reported to be in talks for the lead role.[7] Pitt joined the project the following month, and production was scheduled to begin in Louisiana in March 2011.[8] Additional roles were cast in early 2011.[9] Dominik asked Pitt if he was interested in the role via a text message; he replied "yes" and the matter was settled over half an hour.[10]

Pre-production began in Louisiana in January 2011,[11] and filming was underway by March 2011.[12]

According to Garret Dillahunt, the film's first cut was two-and-a-half hours long. Dillahunt, who had a cameo in the film, did not make the final cut.[13]

Release[edit]

Killing Them Softly was scheduled to premiere on September 21, 2012; however, the US release date was delayed until November 30, 2012, to avoid competing with The Master and to improve its chances for award nominations.[14] The film kept its original release date in other parts of the world, with the somewhat unusual result where it opened in the UK and India more than two months before the US opening.

The Weinstein Company distributed the film in the United States and Canada.

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Upon its opening weekend, Killing Them Softly grossed a domestic total of $6,812,900. As of February 4, 2013, the movie has made $14,947,716 domestically and $20,557,184 internationally, with a worldwide total of $37,470,591.

Critical response[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 75% based on reviews from 210 critics, with an average rating of 6.9 out of 10. While getting high ratings from critics it received heavy criticism from many people.[15] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 64 based on 42 reviews.[16]

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film 5 stars saying the film is a "compelling comment on economic bloodletting in the real world".[17] Tim Robey of The Daily Telegraph gave the film 4 stars describing it as "bleakly electrifying".[18] Total Film awarded it 3 stars calling it "tough, stylish, violent and studded with stars" but countered that it "doesn’t quite get the job done".[19]

CinemaScore audience polling gave the film an "F", making it one of only 8 films to have received an F score.[20]

Accolades[edit]

Award Category Recipients and nominees Outcome
65th Cannes Film Festival[21] Palme d'Or Andrew Dominik Nominated

Home media[edit]

The film was released on March 26, 2013. The film was released in Australia earlier, on February 13,[22] and on February 25 in the UK.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Title « British Board of Film Classification". British Board of Film Classification. August 28, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ Kaufman, Amy (November 29, 2012). "Brad Pitt's 'Killing Them Softly' poised for soft box office debut". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Killing Them Softly (2012)". Box Office Mojo. February 10, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  4. ^ "2012 Official Selection". Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved April 19, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Andrew Dominik, a certain vision of capitalism". Cannes Film Festival. May 22, 2012. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  6. ^ Wright, Benjamin (May 23, 2012). "Cannes: 'Killing Them Softly' Helmer Andrew Dominik Talks Music As Film: 'Jesse James' Was My Leonard Cohen Song, 'Killing Them Softly' Is A Pop Tune". The Playlist. Retrieved September 10, 2012. 
  7. ^ McNary, Dave (November 2, 2010). "Brad Pitt in talks for 'Cogan's Trade'". Variety. 
  8. ^ McNary, Dave (December 30, 2010). "Brad Pitt to star in 'Cogan's Trade'". Variety. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Vilkommerson, Sara (September 3, 2012). "Fall Movies We Can't Wait To See – Killing Them Softly (Oct. 19)". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved September 4, 2012. 
  11. ^ Scott, Mike (January 3, 2011). "Brad Pitt to return to New Orleans for thriller 'Cogan's Trade'". The Times-Picayune. 
  12. ^ "Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and family hit the French Quarter streets". The Times-Picayune. March 21, 2011. 
  13. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (April 15, 2012). "Garret Dillahunt Says First Cut Of 'Killing Them Softly' Was 2.5 Hours, Not Sure If He Made The Final Edit". The Playlist. Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Killing Them Softly New Release Date". Film School Rejects. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  15. ^ "Killing Them Softly". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved August 19, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Killing Them Softly". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved September 21, 2012. 
  17. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (September 20, 2012). "Killing Them Softly – review". The Guardian. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 
  18. ^ Robey, Tim (September 20, 2012). "Killing Them Softly, review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  19. ^ Crocker, Johnathon (September 21, 2012). "Killing Them Softly review". Total Film. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 
  20. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/gallery/brad-pitt-killing-them-softly-f-cinemascore-397731
  21. ^ "Cannes Film Festival 2012 line-up announced". Timeout. Retrieved September 21, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Killing Them Softly". EzyDVD. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Killing Them Softly [DVD]: Amazon.co.uk: Film & TV". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 

External links[edit]