A gangster movie that disappointed a lot of film goers, Killing Them Softly was directed Australian filmmaker Andrew Dominik, who also gave us Chopper and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Staring a wonderful ensemble cast that includes Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelssohn and the late, great James Gandolfini, Killing Them Softly was released to largely mixed reviews. A significant amount of negativity that it garnered was due to its shotty marketing campaign, in that audiences believed Killing Them Softly would be a more action-packed, violent gangster flick. When as it turned out, Killing Them Softly is wonderfully directed, brilliantly shot neo-noir, crime drama.

In my opinion, while I too would have been disappointed if I had gone to see this movie for its action, I actually really enjoy Killing Them Softly and consider it to be one of the most overlooked and underrated movies of the 2010’s.

Why Audiences Didn’t Like Killing Them Softly…

As mentioned above, many film goers went into cinemas thinking that Killing Them Softly would be in the vein of a classic Scorsese mob/gangster film and would have a lot of action as well as a fast-driving, hard-hitting story. What audiences ended up getting was a quiet, moving crime drama about gangsters going through existential crises during the 2008 financial crisis. Needless to say, Killing Them Softly is not exactly Goodfellas but the performance, story and cinematography are fairly exceptional in their own way. I for one wasn’t disappointed after understanding what I was in for and ended up really liking this movie for several reasons.

Why You Really Should Watch Killing Them Softly…

First of all, can we talk reviews? This movie received a fairly good 75% on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and did get at least some love from the film critic community. However, its current audience score sits at a pathetic 44% and should be much higher. I feel that the low rating from audiences was based on what I already mention. But so what? A lot of films have terrible marketing campaigns that are out of the hand of their filmmakers and end up to be really amazing movies. Edge of Tomorrow anyone?

Killing Them Softly is a drama and while there’s action in the movie, this isn’t a high-octane, action-packed, gangster, killing, death, shoot-um-up, thrill ride. The movie is a slow, quiet character-piece about two hitmen hired to kill two small time crooks who rob the wrong poker game. Those crooks are also played by Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelssohn, two of the most talented actors of this generation. I personally would love to see them in more movies together.

One of the biggest complaints that I have against the movie is its message. I tend not to like movies with messages that beat the audience over the head. In this movie, the execution of the message is passively heard over radio or seen on TV. While the message is better dealt with and is smarter then let’s say The Wolf of Wall Street, I was still distracted by it in many parts. I wish the filmmakers had taken the passiveness of radio and TV news programs and allowed for more ambiguity in what they ultimately trying to say. However, it wasn’t enough to completely take me out of the film. It just did in certain moments.

While I won’t argue that Killing Them Softly is a masterpiece like another movie Ben Mendelssohn is in, The Place Beyond The Pines, Killing Them Softly is still pretty exceptional and a movie YOU REALLY SHOULD SEE. It is without a doubt one of the MOST UNDERRATED movies of the 2010’s and one of the better final performances from the late James Gandolfini.