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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 22, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Andrew Dominik
Writer: Andrew Dominik
Starring: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Scoot McNairy, James Gandolfini, Ben Mendelsohn (I), Richard Jenkins
» See full cast & crew
Killing Them Softly Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, March 22, 2013
New Zealand writer-director Andrew Dominik's "Killing Them Softly" (2012) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment/The Weinstein Company. The only supplemental features on the disc are four deleted scenes and a short making of featurette. In English, with optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "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 Anchor Bay Entertainment/The Weinstein Company.
The high-definition transfer appears to have been sourced from the same master which Entertainment in Video (EIV) had access to when they prepared their Blu-ray release of Killing Them Softly for the UK market. Unsurprisingly, detail and image depth are excellent. Color reproduction is also very good - there is a good range of cool but natural greens, blues, browns, and grays. As I mentioned in our review of the EIV release, there are some terrific slow-motion effects in the film that look great. Elsewhere, different cameras with different Super High Speed Lenses were used for other very impressive looking sequences (Dominik and cinematographer Greig Fraser also used Kodak's new 500T 5230 film stock). Needless to say, this is a film with a very unique, very stylish look that looks quite beautiful on Blu-ray. All in all, compression might be marginally better on the EIV release, but I would not say that there are any important discrepancies. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A 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, optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles have been included for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The lossless track is appropriately aggressive during the shootouts, but there are also a few sequences where some very subtle effects are introduced (see Russell's hallucinations). The important political speeches coming from the back are always easy to hear. The dialog is very crisp, stable, and easy to follow throughout the entire film. Finally, there are no audio dropouts or distortions to report in this review.
Killing Them Softly Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Killing Them Softly Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly is one of the very best films to be released theatrically in 2012. I loved it. As far as I am concerned, this is what modern noir films should look like. Now the film is finally available on Blu-ray in the United States. The technical presentation is very good, but once again I must say that I would have loved to see a much better selection of supplemental features. A lengthy interview with Brad Pitt, for instance, would have been great. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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