KILLING THEM SOFTLY, yet another boys-only bilge barrage from the Tarantino High School for smug screenwriters, this particular pail of puke was retched & heaved by Andrew Dominik. That such vile and vicious slop is spewed with professional precision by excellent actors led by Brad Pitt is not a get-out-of-jail pass. What’s surprising is that head perp Dominik wrote & directed the very good, underrated The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, also starring Pitt. The BradMan was duly impressed enough to not just star in but produce this 2012 sewer tour. Rank offal, with one consolation: the barf bath only lasts for 97 minutes. Dominik’s first cut ran for 150: a stretch in a Burmese prison would be more bearable.
Scuzzy small-time losers rob a mob-run poker game, hoping to have blame focused on the game manager, who did a similar in-house scam before. A hitman is sent after them. After enough profane and pointless gabbing for three David Mamet plays, a savage beating, a heroin zonk and assorted killings, the bad guys are bested by the badder ones. The End. Adding pretense to the exhausted motif is framing it against the backdrop of the 2008 financial meltdown, an insiders con job run at the highest levels. Hard to say what’s more maddening: death by a thousand cuts of the f-word, and hearing the repellent lowlifes disparage women with a clinical coarseness that would gag Harvey Weinstein (incidentally the executive producer), or enduring droning replays of unbilled actors Bush II and Obama, keeping straight faces while dribbling platitudes about how we all need to pull together. Aping ‘cute’ cues gathered from Quentin University, non-period songs are grafted onto the soundtrack.
Brad-gone-Bad is joined by James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy. The performers are faultless: their script is utter garbage. Pure indulgence, with extra doses of repellent misogyny, interrupted by chunks of excessive brutality. Except for a few visual flourishes, it’s creatively barren, bankrupt of wit, depth or justification, and so dispiriting and soul-insulting in its nihilism it should come with a disinfectant to scour it from memory. A swell way to ruin a date.
Set around Boston, filmed around New Orleans. Made for $15,000,000, it grossed the same amount domestically, placing 120th, with another $22,900,000 tricked abroad. With Vincent Curatolla, Slaine and Sam Shepard.