'Killing Them Softly' Review: Gangster Tale Doubles Down on Capitalism Critiques

The concept of organized crime as a dark mirror image of American capitalism was firmly established in "The Godfather" 40 years ago. But it seems to be a hot new idea for writer-director Andrew Dominik, who beats it to death throughout his new movie, "Killing Them Softly."

The picture is a talky noir set in the meltdown year of 2008. It’s littered with Obama campaign sound bites and radio bank-bailout reports, and the thudding political allegory keeps poking you in the face while you’re trying to keep track of the story.

(Even the film’s title, an apparent reference to remotely guided U.S. bombing sorties, is intended to wake us up to what’s going on in the world.)

The movie is based on a 1974 crime novel by George V. Higgins. The book was set in Boston, and while the picture was shot in New Orleans, the characters all talk like they just flew in from Dorchester. There’s some remarkable violence (a brutally beaten man blows bloody chunks out of his ruined mouth) and a big showoffy slo-mo rubout in a storm of bullets, blood, and shattered glass. But these action jolts are outnumbered by long stretches of gab.

Fortunately, it’s a stylish gab, in a neo-hardboiled manner, and the actors make the most of it.

Read the full review at Reason.com


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