At the beginning of the year I put together a list of books to read that were being adapted for the big screen and figured that with a cast that includes Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, and Ray Liotta would be a can't miss hit. Andrew Dominik follows the success of "The Assassination of Jesse James" (2007) as the writer and director of the adaptation of George Higgins' novel. "Killing Them Softly" is a crime thriller that is overloaded with dialogue and was a difficult read.
The story is almost too simple and without the overwhelming amount of dialogue the film would come in at well under an hour and could be a TV drama. The film starts with footage from political speeches discussing the economic crisis and then cuts to three amateurs planning to holdup a card game run by the local mob. The card game is managed by Markie (Ray Liotta), who has a history with the mob. Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is a hitman that is sent to track down those responsible for the card game being robbed. He brings in a friend Mickey (James Gandolfini) to finish the job only to find that he is a wreck boozing and womanizing anything that he can get his hands on. As Jackie learns who is responsible he communicates with the mob bosses middle man (Richard Jenkins).
I really wanted to like the film more, but it was too similar to the book in ways I was hoping would be different. Instead the film is overloaded with dialogue and lacking any character development to care what happens. Andrew Dominik lays his intentions with the film on thick from the beginning with images of the yet to be elected presidential campaign poster for Barack Obama and the message for change. A different secondary story arc could have made the film better, but unfortunately falls flat as just a 3 Quack film. I wish I could say more about the film, but after listening to the endless dialogue there just isn't anything worth saying.