What we have here is an elegant hit man caper. Surely not to everyone's taste, but as for me, I gobbled it up with wanton abandon.
For those lucky few that caught The Assassination Of Jessie James By The Coward Robert Ford you will hopefully be ready for the next film in Andrew Dominick's repertoire. This is an arty film—not artsy fartsy but certainly not your average Hollywood venture either. Killing Them Softly reminded me of early Godard or Truffaut back in the 60's under the French tidal surge of the nouvelle vague. Back when people experimented with cinematic conventions and when, sometimes, meaningless scenes just dragged on for the pure riveting pleasure of watching luminescent celluloid flash 24 pictures of ecstasy into your Cartesian theater for pure hallucinatory, illusory stupor inducing enjoyment. The palpability of the 70's was in the air as well, when many directors had complete control of their craft. This was the generation of auteurs—a time when society considered film an art form and accepted many different ideas and perspectives. Then Spielberg sailed in with Jaws and changed all that. Blockbusters were born and so were money hungry studios. Of course they existed before but after the success of Jaws in 1975, Star Wars in 1977 and the tragedy of Heaven's Gate (an enormously expensive film that tanked) the movies never remained the same.
This film was photographed exceptionally, with pristine attention to detail. The sound effects are also interesting and excitingly experimental in nature—the Ray Liotta, getting thrashed scene, is one of the most pleasing and innovative things I've seen in a long long while. Just splendid. The pace is slow with many conversations lasting an uncomfortable amount of time with little to no background music for added trepidatious effect. I would offer one criticism that the humor, many times, felt forced and even unnecessarily gratuitous, but still, I enjoyed it for the most part. There is a running motif of current politics throughout, which, I believe is present to be an ironic and absurd statement on the state of America and those of us that live in denial of the truth. Though I don't tend to concur with the films' pessimistic denouement, regarding every man for himself, you can't help but to agree when standing in the shoes of the hapless hit man. You know right from the opening sequence that this film will be different. Don't hate it for trying.
Recommended Viewing: The Assassination Of Jessie James - True Romance - The Visitor
Bob Scale: The Critic: 8.0 - The Fan: 8.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 78