Killing Them Softly Movie (2012)

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Director: Andrew Dominic

Producers: Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Steve Schwartz, Paula Mae Schwartz, Anthony Dominic

Cinematographer: Greig Fraser

Editor: Brian A. Kates, John Paul Horstmann

Screenplay: Andrew Dominik

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Running Time: 97 min

Country: United States

Language: English


Vincent Curatola as Johnny “Spuirrel” Amato

Scoot Mc Nairy as Frankie

Ben Mendelsohn as Russell

Ray Liotta as Markie Trattman

Sam Shepard as Dillon

Slaine as Kenny Gill

Brad Pitt as Jackie Cogan

Richard Jenkins as Ron Fenwick (Driver)

Max Casella as Barry Caprio

Trevor Long as Steve Caprio

James Gandolfini as Mickey

Linara Washington as Hooker


It is during the 2008 financial crisis and presidential election campaign that Johnny “Squirrel” Amato (Vincent Curatola) intends to mug a Mafia poker game.

His accomplices are Frankie (Scoot Mc Nairy), a former business workmate, and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn), a heroin- addicted Australian foreigner. They set eyes on a game managed by Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta). Squirrel anticipates that Markie would be the obvious suspect due to his involvement in a previous robbery at the place.

They finally do the holdup and steal the money. Driver (Richard Jenkins) hires hitman Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) to deal with the culprits. Jackie intends to kill Markie so as to discourage anyone else planning of robbing the place.

After doing the robbery, Russell heads to Florida so as to continue with unscrupulous dog selling business. It is then when he meets Kenny Gill (Slaine) who he later informs of his involvement in the heist. Kenny later sets him up to Jackie and the latter finally identifies the perpetrators.

Jackie hunts Markie himself but he hires hitman Mickey Fallon to kill Squirrel. Jackie prefers a “Killing Them Softly” approach that involves shooting the targets from a distance without notice.

Mickey postpones his assignment and he indulgences in sex and alcohol with prostitutes in a hotel. Jackie reassigns him and he later decides to kill Squirrel himself despite them being acquaintances. He later organizes for Mickey’s arrest.

Meanwhile, Russell is arrested for drugs possession and he is later deported. Jackie gets hold of Frankie and he threatens to kill him if he does not disclose Squirrel’s address. Frankie later drives him to the place and he finally kills Squirrel. Moments after driving out of the scene, Jackie shoots Frankie also to death and he erases all traces of evidence against him.

Jackie heads to a bar in New Orleans to collect his payment from Driver. The meeting is concurrent with a time whereby Barack Obama is giving his victory speech. However, driver is reluctant to paying him the full sum. Jackie angrily confronts Driver with quotes from the incoming president.


Based on the novel Cogan’s Trade by George V. Higgins, Killing Them Softly was directed by Andrew Dominik. It was produced at a time of economic crisis and a heated political atmosphere. The film is a brilliant nihilistic crime noir, perfectly portraying the current conditions in America. The script is well paced and relevant to the title.

The casting was exceptional. Fine performances from Squirrel, a stylish, opportunistic robber looking to pull out a masterclass. His colleague Russell is a drug addict as well as high-breed dog thief.

Despite being of Australian origin, stealing from local mafias is no problem to Russell. Jackie is the ultimate assassin any mafia would want to hire. He conducts his executions cleanly leaving no traces behind.

Fellow hitman Mickey cannot balance work and pleasure. He is obsessed with prostitutes and alcohol. Driver is a representation of the mafias who appear as innocent and prudent men but in the contrary, they run the dark world.

The dialogue in the film is clear and fluent. The producer also uses backdrops by George. W. Bush and Barrack Obama parallel to the time and occasion in which the film was produced. Actually, a quote by the latter is used as a characterizing line for the film.

The brown and orange look of the film brings the feeling of moral decay and economic depression. The cinematographer ensures that the heist bears enough tension, while the acts of violence and murder are also clearly portrayed with immense brutality.

In terms of music, the film uses pop, rock and R& B songs, and that helps it cut across various audiences. The collection of music matched the film’s idealistic nature.

Also, the theme of socio-political vices stands out. The decision of the petty thieves to steal from the wealthy mafias was just a reflection of the situation in the country. Crime was justified and the use of a wrong to cancel out another wrong prevailed.


Due to violence, drug abuse, sexual illustrations and pervasive language, this movie is rated R. It’s still a standout film compared to many other 2012 movies, having scored a cool 6.2/10 from over 130,000 customer votes.

A unique idealistic and thrilling action noir, it’s worth a watch and a prudent use of money in getting a copy.

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