Review: ‘Killing Them Softly’

I enjoy the work of film-makers who dare to take risks. When they go in their own way and make a film with absolute artistic freedom without looking over their shoulder constantly. Names like Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan are the perfect artists to mention, and not to forget the promising names like Rian Johnson, Ben Affleck. But, not many film-makers dare to jump in this pool, even though they get the opportunity to make their work glow. – Andrew Dominik, with The Assassination of Jesse James by Coward Robert Ford, not only proved that he is a student of cinema, but dared to make his mark with authority.

Dominik’s oeuvre defines the discipline of cinema, I believe. You either, as a film-maker, make a film for yourself or for the audience. Some make films for themselves, artistic at times, but redundant, however. Dominik makes a film, for he adores the process of it. Its process is what I believe the film-maker should enjoy, yet making a film for your audience is one essential process that must never be forgotten.  Also, it is absolutely fine to challenge your audience. With Brad Pitt, “Killing Them Softly” is Dominik’s second film, and fortunately, Dominik is still disciplined. I forgot, honestly, during watching this film that it was an Andrew Dominik film. Killing Them Softly looks like it is from the land of Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. I am talking about its style and the artistic work of the director here.

The world that Dominik is focusing on in ‘Killing Them Softly’ is very much like our world. In fact, it rewinds the clock back to 2008. Post Katrina in New Orleans, when economy was like shattered glass, in slow motion. Mobsters are trying to find easy detours to make money here and there. And, among them walks Jackie Cogan limned by Brad Pitt, yet mean as the condition of the nation and her economy in 2008. Two nobodies, Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelson) as robbers hit Markie Trattman’s (Ray Liotta) poker game. Cogan with the contract signed, drives to locate the two losers for the latest theft.

There is anger in its message; Dominik is furious as Killing Them Softly screams with pain at the unjust deeds of men who call themselves politicians. Not so different, after all, from the mobsters of this film.

This hitman noir, besides its deep plot moves on with extreme language and violence as if Dominik’s been carrying a coin with different sides; his previous masterpiece ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by Coward Robert Ford’ was about one man’s war with himself with poetic tone, and images; Killing Them Softly on the other side is extreme for an extreme world. The coarse fact is spilled in front of Dominik’s camera. No face hiding is needed as true film-making requires true risks. ‘Killing Them Softly’ is an angry picture, beautiful, dark and artistic. What makes it more unforgettable besides its plot and perfect execution is Brad Pitt’s well-balanced performance, who with the assistance of Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini, Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelson leaves behind a perfect American Crime film.


Author I Rohan Mohmand I Founder & Editor in Chief I He’s a film enthusiast, screenwriter and a news reporter at He’s also the co-founder of, who writes a column on film at