Director Andrew Dominik reunites with Brad Pitt in a different era of crime in the film, Killing Them Softly. An adaption of the 1974 crime novel, Cogan’s Trade, Killing Them Softly is a unique comparison and comment on the financial crisis in the U.S. and organized crime. Dominik doesn’t try to be subtle in his comparison as the entire film has a political backdrop. Whether it be key speeches from Bush, Obama, and McCain, political billboards, or just dialogue between characters, the message of the film is very clear.

Set during the collapse and bank bailout, three foolish criminals decide to rob a poker game run by the mob. Frankie, Scoot McNairy, and Russel, Ben Mendelsohn, are brought in on the job by Squirrel, Vincent Curatola. Squirrel has some information that this poker game has been hit once before and the person behind it was none other than the individual who ran the game, Markie Trattman, played by Ray Liotta. Squirrel is convinced that if they hit the game Markie will be blamed and they will all be in the clear.  After the game is hit, the mob brings in Driver, Richard Jenkins, to be the middle man between the mob and the hit-man Jackie Cogan, played by Brad Pitt. We find out that the mob has turned quite corporate and that every decision takes a group discussion and approval. This is an obvious comment on the economics of our business world and shows that even the lowest form of organized crime these comparisons are poignant.

Jackie understands what needs to be done to reassure the public eye that its still safe to play in these poker games but he isn’t convinced that Markie is to blame. Pitt brings empathy to the character of Jackie and has a great moment talking to Driver about why they need to bring in another hit-man, Mickey, played by James Gandolfini because Jackie doesn’t like hitting someone he knows. He proceeds to say that he rather kill them from afar, to kill them softly so he doesn’t have to see them at their weakest point. He doesn’t like the crying, the screaming, the moaning of a man about to die.

The film continues to follow the characters trying to get away or bring an end to the “financial crisis” that has hit the organized crime word. With nobody trusting their money to be safe at the games, everyone in the crime world loses and that is something they won’t let happen.

There are some very strong performances in the film. Pitt’s Jackie is the least scummy of all the characters but there is still a decisive yet subtle strength and ruthlessness. Gandolfini gives an engaging performance as well. His character, to me, was one of the most interesting. It seemed to be a comment on Wall Street as Mickey is an aging hit-man with a broken heart, struggling with alcoholism and has a taste for whores. It’s almost as if Dominik is trying to warn us that this is what may be next for corporate America if we continue down this financial path. Richard Jenkins also gives a great performance in scenes you wish were longer. His connections to Jackie and the network of mobsters that he represents are never identified but we know he’s there to clean up the mess. Jackie needs to discuss if there is even money available to fly Mickey in for the job and Jenkins has a great line about making sure he flies coach. This comment on how closely related organized crime and corporate America can be is what makes the film more that just a crime drama. It makes a statement and it doesn’t tell you to agree or not. It questions whether “hope” and “change” are more than just words on a billboard.

This film is also void of females. Besides one scene and in various dialogue, the film is without. It seems to comment on the lack of femininity in corporate America yet shows men at some of their most feminine moments. The best quote of the film comes at the very end and seems to sum it all up quite nicely, but you’ll have to watch it to get that quote. Rumor has it the original cut was around two and a half hours and this cut was ninety-seven minutes. It makes one ponder how much more there was to this great film.