Killing Them SoftlyDirector: Andrew Dominik, Inferno Entertainment, Rated MA, 97 mins
Besides being brutally violent this disappointing gangster drama from Australian director Andrew Dominik (Chopper) seriously lacks a sensible storyline despite featuring Brad Pitt in the lead role, having played the major character in Dominik’s previous production of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford in 2007.
Killing Them Softly is only Dominik’s third movie with Pitt portraying a professional hitman named Jackie Cogan who is called in by Driver (Richard Jenkins - The Rum Diary) the mob’s moderator to clean up the mess caused by two small time crooks - former prisoner Frankie (Scoot McNairy -
Monsters) and the drug-addicted dog thief Russell (Aussie actor Ben Mendelsohn - Animal Kingdom) - when they rob an illegal poker game run by gambler Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta - Charlie St.Cloud) for a gangster referred to as Squirrel (The Sopranos’ Vincent Curatola).
After beating Markie half to death, hitman Jackie (Pitt) is called in but as he prefers to kill his targets “softly” (or at a distance) he then sub-contracts the assignment to the unreliable but risky Mickey (The Sopranos’ James Gandolfini), realising later that he will ultimately need to do the job himself.
In adapting George Higgins 1970’s novel to the big screen, Dominik who clearly relishes showing the killings in slow motion has set his deadly movie against the backdrop of the global financial crisis and the 2008 U.S. Presidential election (even showing Barack Obama on TV), creating an all gangster type storyline where retribution is sure to follow against those who try to steal other gangsters’ assets.
It is fair to say that Pitt’s performance as well as that of Mendelsohn are the only positives in Dominik’s production with the entertainment value further hampered by the slow pace of the storyline and the over the top violence especially where Pitt is ‘Killing Them Softly’.
VIC'S VERDICT: 2 Rubber Stamps
Men in Black 3Release Date October 2012
Director: Barry Sonnenfield, Sony Pictures, Rated M, 106 mins
There are some sequels that fail badly but 10 years after making Men in Black 2 director Barry Sonnenfield’s Men in Black 3 has actually made an amusing and entertaining sci-fi comedy that has a refreshing storyline as well as the added feature of time travel.
It also sees the return of the lead stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, reprising their roles as agents J and K from the covert organisation who patrol the universe with their neutralisers in their campaign to rid the Earth of all alien activity.
MIB 3 begins with the escape from his maximum security prison on the moon of the one armed extra-terrestrial killing machine Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) who travels back in time to the 60’s to kill agent K (who he blames for losing his arm and imprisoning him) and prepare for the destruction of the world.
To save his partner and the Earth, agent J also takes a leap into the past, teaming up with a younger agent K (Josh Brolin) to stop Boris from achieving his aims.
Unlike the earlier Men in Black movies that included some over-the-top aliens, Sonnenfield has on this occasion made a comical sequel with a brand new storyline that includes plenty of action and laughs, mainly due to the comedic performances of Brolin and Smith.
There are also a number of new characters that include Brolin’s brilliant performance as the younger stone-faced agent K (providing a remarkable resemblance to his older namesake), Clement as the outrageous villain Boris and Emma Thompson as the MIB’s new boss, agent O.
With such a combination of aliens, characters and special effects, Sonnenfield has delivered his franchise’s best effort to date, ensuring a DVD well worth seeing.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 ½ Rubber Stamps
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