In the lawless land of America

Based on George V Higgins’ novel, Cogan’s Trade, Killing Them Softly explores the dark side of America troubled by gangsters in desperation and empty promises by politicians during the 2008 recession.

Two armed robbers Russel (Ben Mendelsohn) and Frankie (Scoot McNairy), wearing kitchen gloves and see-through masks, hold up and rob a poker game.
It is quite surprising that they were successful in their mission, being as clumsy as they were.

Even the people at the poker table didn’t seem to mind it that much either. The duo pin the crime on double-dealer Markie (Ray Liotta), who has committed a similar crime before.
It is up to Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt), a hired brutal mob enforcer to track them down and set things right.

Pitt plays the perfect emotionless killer who has his own strategy when it comes to murder. He says, “Killing someone can get embarrassing. Touchy-feely. I like to kill them softly — from a distance.”

Mickey (James Gandolfini) plays the role of a hitman turned drunken sex-addict. The only female role in the entire movie is the hooker he verbally abuses.

If not for the visuals of the 2008 election campaign by Obama and McCain from TV sets, the pale yellow setting reminds you of the 70’s or early 80’s.

It shows the dark America hit by recession and a state of chaos and lawlessness everywhere. The movie is not perfect but there is something alluring about the anxiety it portrays and the dialogues in it.

Jackie’s explicit cynicism shows throughout the movie and he ends it perfectly by mocking Obama’s election speech claiming America to be community.
He says, “We’re living in America and you’re on your own. America’s not a country. It’s just a business.”

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