I’ve got a lot of hope resting on Fury. It is not too long to wait until we may see another great Brad Pitt film and in my mind, its been a while since we’ve witnessed one. For me, Pitt’s last good year was 2011. It may not seem that long ago, but his excellent showings in Moneyball and The Tree of Life are ever further in the past. By anyone’s standards 2011 was a good year for Brad Pitt, managing to squeeze in a voice role in Happy Feet 2 alongside his critically-acclaimed roles. However, since we have only been offered an average Zombie flick, an oddly-casted role in 12 Years and a jarring performance in the very disappointing The Counselor. Unfortunately, 2012’s Killing Them Softly fits in well with Pitt’s post-Oscar-nom lull.
Set up as a dark but stylistically pretty gangster/hitman movie, the signs looked good for this outing. A viable premise and a cast boasting the likes of Pitt, Gandolfini, Liotta and Richard Jenkins could have produced a good film. The shame is it simply didn’t. The cast did little wrong, but even less right. Both Liotta and Gandolfini looked right in their element but neither could inspire. Each had little to work with in terms of action or dialogue, with Liotta only coming out with a decent showing of vulnerability and Gandolfini proving he can be crude for the sake of crude itself.
The interactions between Pitt and Jenkins were the film’s strongest points however. The two batted retort after retort at each other as they tussled for dominance in their conversations. We were treated to a back-seat view to their first encounter, in what was one of the few scenes I found myself totally engrossed. Not only was the dialogue good, but the visual nature of the shot was excellent. The shot drew you in through the closeness you felt to the two characters and how the rain fell hard on the windscreen, giving you a chilling sensation that you needed to stay in the vehicle with them and hang onto every phrase. I was very impressed by the set-up of this scene.
This was a stand-alone moment of success however, as the film never found a route of its own. Moments that worked were overshadowed by twice as many that didn’t. Some of the sound track work enhanced scenes as well as in any film, but were let down by odd moments of sound that irritated and were generally unfitting. The same was to be seen with the visuals, which went from the excellent to the average.
The film also failed to pave a certain path through its use of comedy. At times the picture came through as a dark comedy creating some moments of real humour but these were too few. The film was at times, to repeat my phrase, crude for the sake of crude itself and at others offered too little to break up the bleak darkness of both the situation and the film-making. Political undertones ran throughout the picture to give it a spine and whilst working to an extent, left me wanting.
Saying that, the picture as a whole left me wanting. An excellent use of bleak weather situations, unoriginal action and some decent performances, especially from Scoot McNairy of Monsters fame, were not enough to hold up Killing Them Softly very high. The film was overly quiet in dialogue, lacking in meaningful action and in many parts, simply tedious. At least the title was apt, as at time I felt this picture was killing me softly.