Andrew Dominik, the director of the superb period gangster drama, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford , is back with a movie that has a shorter title and more box-office firepower. Killing Them Softly updates Cogan’s Trade, a novel written by American crime novelist George V. Higgins in 1974, to pre-Obama America.
It is 2008, George W. Bush is on his way out, the economy is in the rubbish heap, and a bunch of hoodlums have been foolish enough to rob a poker business run by the mafia. Richard Jenkins’ mob lawyer hires Brad Pitt’s uber-cool hitman Cogan (is there any other kind?) to finish off the lot. It’s all business for Cogan, who might have been a Manhattan banker if he weren’t a killer for hire. He likes to kill his victims “softly, from a distance, not close enough for feelings—don’t like feelings, don’t want to think about ’em”.
See the trailer.
Only crime movies, Dominik told the official bulletin of the Cannes festival in May, show Americans as they really are. “(The crime film) is the only one in which it is acceptable for all the characters to think of nothing but money,” he said. Many critics who watched Killing Them Softly at its premiere at the Cannes film festival were in raptures. The Telegraph said it was “elegantly brutal and tough as old rope”. The Observer loved the “stylised, brilliantly turned exchanges” that are “punctuated by often stunningly staged outbursts of violence, including one particular killing in slow motion that makes us feel we’re spectators at the apocalypse”. We are grateful to the Central Board of Film Certification for allowing us to witness the extent of the destruction for ourselves—the movie releases on 5 October with an adults-only certificate and no cuts.