Today I present for your consideration a movie now available on DVD, Killing Them Softly (2012, Rated R).
I can tell you right now: This movie is not for everyone. I'm not just giving you my usual warning about not letting your kids watch. If violence bothers you, no matter how stylishly it's executed, then you don't want to watch Killing Them Softly.
Some idiot low-lifes rob a Mob-run card game, wreaking havoc with local criminal activity. So Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is hired to "remove" certain people from action and restore the economy.
Jackie Cogan: You ever kill anyone?
Jackie Cogan: It can get touchy-feely.
Jackie Cogan: Emotional, not fun, a lot of fuss. They cry. They plead. They beg. They piss themselves. They call for their mothers. It gets embarrassing.
Jackie Cogan: I like to kill them softly, from a distance. Not close enough for feelings. Don't like feelings. Don't want to think about them.
This is not your mother's movie about criminals. We don't see the action from the point of view of a good detective or a corrupt police officer or the Mafia don. We're in the down and dirty with the criminals themselves, one of whom complains he has to stick to crime to make a living because even when he can get a legitimate job, he doesn't have any way to get there.
Now don't start writing comments to me about how I'm a soft-on-crime liberal. I didn't write this movie, and even though it indicates that some criminals are trapped in their line of business, this movie doesn't feel sorry for them either. Their lives suck. Their deaths suck. When a bullet goes through the window of a car and the glass flies into the air in slow motion so that it almost looks pretty, there's still someone on the other side of that window who is a bloody stinking mess.
Throughout the movie we see news clips about the economy tanking, and finally, President Obama talking about how we are a nation of one people. Jackie Cogan doesn't see it that way:
Barack Obama (on TV): ...to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one...
Driver: You hear that line? Line's for you.
Jackie Cogan: Don't make me laugh. One people. It's a myth created by Thomas Jefferson.
Driver: Oh, so now you're going to have a go at Jefferson, huh?
Jackie Cogan: My friend, Thomas Jefferson is an American saint because he wrote the words 'All men are created equal', words he clearly didn't believe since he allowed his own children to live in slavery. He's a rich white snob who's sick of paying taxes to the Brits. So, yeah, he writes some lovely words and aroused the rabble and they went and died for those words while he sat back and drank his wine and fucked his slave girl. This guy wants to tell me we're living in a community? Don't make me laugh. I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business. Now fuckin' pay me.
We live in a capitalist society, and criminals are part of the business world. That's what I take away from Killing Them Softly.
If you decide you want to watch this movie in spite of the violence, you might feel dissatisfied with the end. The good guys don't ride in on their white horses and take out the bad guys. There is no Lone Ranger, no Superman, no Batman -- just ugly life. And because this movie achieves (what I believe to be) its purpose, it's well made, and Brad Pitt's performance is excellent.
Killing Them Softly has The Janie Junebug Seal of Approval.
Infinities of love,