The Films of Andrew Dominik
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Killing Them Softly (November 29/12)
The degree to which Killing Them Softly ultimately peters out is, to put it mildly, somewhat disappointing, as the movie boasts a riveting and thoroughly entertaining opening stretch that seems to promise an above-average crime thriller - as filmmaker Andrew Dominik kicks the proceedings off with an engaging look at the exploits of two bumbling criminals (Scoot McNairy's Frankie and Ben Mendelsohn's Russell). The ensuing heist sequence is as engrossing and suspenseful as one might've hoped, and there's certainly a great deal of promise in the initial shift of focus to Brad Pitt's professional assassin, Jackie. But Dominik, working from his own screenplay, has infused the narrative with an off-kilter feel that does, at every turn, undermine the movie's various strengths, with the continuing emphasis on aggressively pointless subplots and side characters wreaking havoc on the film's increasingly tenuous momentum. (The best and most cogent example of this is virtually everything revolving around James Gandolfini's Mickey, with the palpably uneventful bent of this character's trajectory emblematic of Dominik's oddly disjointed modus operandi.) It is, generally speaking, the inclusion of several breathtakingly conceived and executed action set pieces (eg an execution that occurs entirely in slow motion) that sustains the viewer's interest over the course of the movie's excessively erratic running time, and there's little doubt that Killing Them Softly is, in the end, unable to establish itself as anything more than a mildly-engaging yet thoroughly disappointing art-house experiment.