Killing people can be a “touchy feely” business. So opines professional enforcer Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt), whose endeavours to murder from a distance never quite keep him safe from the sob stories. But watching him try makes for a brilliant twist on the gangster genre.

Writer-director Andrew Dominic has reinterpreted George V. Higgins’ 1974 novel Cogan’s Trade to fit America’s contemporary economic woes. Money is tight so when two punks knock over a mob-run poker game, Cogan is brought in to clean house. But between reckoning with middle-management (Richard Jenkins) and controlling his boozy gun-for-hire (James Gandolfini), Cogan reveals that murder by committee is no easy affair.

Surprisingly wordy and sedately paced, Killing them Softly is spun out through a series of yarns that may prove too long-winded for some. Yet they are punctuated by moments of intense violence. With Pitt in peak form, Dominic delivers a sublimely sardonic portrait of capitalism couched as a gangster thriller. It’s dark, it’s smart, and it’s destined to become a classic piece of cinema.


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