An adaptation of George Higgins’ 1974 Cogan’s Trade, Killing Them Softly is a raw, brutal crime dramedy set in a post-Obama financially challenged Boston. Brad Pitt (who actually arrives much later in the film) stars as Cogan, a slick freelance hitman, draped in oily black, and is as nihilistic as he is professional.
Cogan is summoned by a shady mobster (Richard Jenkins) to ‘take care’ of two small time crooks, who dared to upset the criminal syndicate of the town, by robbing a mafia poker game at gunpoint. The plot is simple but Dominik packs in a shotgun blast of detailing, with a series of truly amazing spitfire set pieces.
Killing them Softly is not exactly subtle. Nearly every single character oozes sarcasm and nonchalant disdain for the Obama administration. The opening shot has audio recordings of the 2009 financial crisis, juxtaposed with stark, destitute, unforgiving urban locales.
In fact the film itself is quite misanthropic and to an extent hates the paying audiences as well, but does it with a hell of a lot of sardonic suaveness. Dominik settles for a decidedly tongue-in-cheek tone for the most part. The top notch cast of Pitt, Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ben Mendelsohn, Sam Shepherd are only matched by the stunning visual and aural aesthetics.