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Killing Them Softly(2012)
Jackie Cogan is a professional enforcer who investigates a heist that went down during a mob-protected poker game.
For more about Killing Them Softly and the Killing Them Softly Blu-ray release, see Killing Them Softly Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on March 4, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Scoot McNairy, James Gandolfini, Ben Mendelsohn (I), Richard Jenkins
Director: Andrew Dominik
» See full cast & crew
Killing Them Softly Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, March 4, 2013
New Zealand writer-director Andrew Dominik's "Killing Them Softly" (2012) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Entertainment in Video (EIV). The only supplemental feature on this release is a gallery of short interviews with various cast and crew members. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
After three small-time gangsters hit the popular card game of made man Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta), reliable and efficient killer Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is called to restore order. Jackie's contact with the local mafia bosses is the Driver (Richard Jenkins), a quiet and indecisive man who likes to follow orders.
At first, it seems like Jackie will be able to take care of business alone, but when he discovers that one of the men he has to eliminate is someone he knows, he asks the Driver to get in touch with Mickey (James Gandolfini), an old pal from New York City, and ask if he would agree to assist him. Mickey likes the numbers the Driver mentions to him on the phone and shortly after that arrives in town. But in a local bar, Jackie quickly realizes that Mickey isn't the man he used to be.
Determined to fulfill his contract, Jackie goes after his targets, while a few local guys are sent to "talk" to Trattman. The latter gets his nose, hands, ribs, and a few other bones broken, before Jackie eventually finishes him off a few blocks away from his house.
Meanwhile, while the mafia bosses are waiting for order to be restored so that everyone in town can go back to work – selling drugs and booze and running card games – President Bush and Senator Obama repeatedly appear on TV and address America's troubled economy.
Loosely based on George V. Higgins' 1974 novel "Cogan's Trade", Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly is a notably violent but at times irresistibly hilarious gangster film Quentin Tarantino would have loved to direct. It has the terrific dark humor Tarantino's early films had (Reservoir Dogs) and that great style that made Gary Fleder's Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead a minor classic.
More than likely, however, Killing Them Softly will not have the same fate Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead had because it is also wrapped in metaphors about the financial crisis that rocked America in early 2008. The shady dealings and backstabbing amidst the constant talk of trust, responsibility and loyalty, all of which are enhanced with extracts from some familiar political speeches, seem very similar to the dirty games that were apparently played by different players in the financial sector. The entire film is about this mirror image of a world most people in America knew nothing about, which is now introduced from a familiar angle, with great style and terrific sense of humor.
But don't get the wrong idea: Killing Them Softly is not a straightforward political film. It offers some food for thought for those that might be willing to take a closer look at the relationships between the gangsters, their attitude and agendas, and then think about the real world, but it also works great as a stylish neo-noir piece that simply does not want to follow familiar rules.
The cast is fantastic. Pitt is incredible as the cool enforcer who likes to "kill them softly". There is one particular sequence where he meets one of his targets in a bar that is nothing short of brilliant – the manner in which he utters his lines and the body language are pure class. The chemistry between Ben Mendelsohn and Frankie Scoot McNairy, both very entertaining actors, is also excellent. The funniest sequences in the entire film, however, are with Gandolfini. His repertoire is familiar, but it never gets old. Great film.
Note: In 2012, Killing Them Softly was nominated for the prestigious Palme d'Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Killing Them Softly Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Entertainment in Video (EIV).
This is a very solid release. Light is often restricted and contrast levels toned down, but detail and clarity are excellent. During the daylight sequences, image depth is also fantastic (see screencapture # 2). The film also boasts a variety of cool but natural greens, blues, browns, and grays that enhance the gritty atmosphere very well. The slow-motion effects during Markie Trattman's execution also look fantastic. Elsewhere, despite the rapid camera moves clarity again remains outstanding (different cameras with different Super High Speed Lenses were used for different sequences; Dominik and cinematographer Greig Fraser also used Kodak's new 500T 5230 film stock). Furthermore, there are no traces of problematic lab tinkering. There are no serious transfer-specific anomalies to report in this review either. Overall image stability is also outstanding. To sum it all up, this is without a doubt the very best presentation of a contemporary film I've seen from the folks at EIV since they started releasing on Blu-ray. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Killing Them Softly Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, EIV have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
The lossless track has a wide range of nuanced dynamics that enhance the film's gritty atmosphere very well. During the killings the gunfire is notably crisp and punchy, but there are also sequences where some subtle effects are introduced (see Russell's hallucinations). The retro soundtrack also benefits from the lossless treatment. Generally speaking, the dialog is crisp, clean, and stable. Also, there are no sudden spikes or drops in dynamic activity.
Killing Them Softly Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Killing Them Softly Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I loved everything about Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly. It is stylish, it is subversive, it is funny, it is brilliantly directed. This is what modern noir films should look like. In a different year, Killing Them Softly could have won the Palme d'Or at Cannes. EIV's technical presentation of the film is excellent, but I would have loved to see more supplemental features, possibly an interview with Brad Pitt. Regardless, thus far this is one of the year's best films. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (If you reside in North America, please keep in mind that Anchor Bay will release Killing Them Softly on Blu-ray on March 26th. See our listing here).
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Killing Them Softly Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Killing Them Softly Gets UK Release Date - November 14, 2012
Entertainment in Video (EIV) will release on Blu-ray director Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly (2012), starring Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta and Richard Jenkins. The release will be available for purchase online and in shops across the United Kingdom on February ...
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