The Grade Book: “Killing Them Softly”

Killing Them Softly

Plot: After two young guys rob a Mob protected card game and cause the local criminal economy to fall apart, an enforcer is called in to handle the situation. 

Director: Andrew Dominik. 

Writer: Andrew Dominik (based on Cogan’s Trade by George V. Higgins). 

Cast: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Scoot McNairy, James Gandolfini, Ben Mendelsohn, and Richard Jenkins. 

Genres: Crime, Drama, Action.

Running Time: 1 hour and 37 minutes.

MPAA Rating: R.




SUMMARY OF THOUGHTS: Killing Them Softly is talky, occasionally boring, and unsubtle. However, Brad Pitt is magnificent and some of the film’s style is brilliant.



  • Chad Gleason (MovieManCHAD):

Grade: A-

Why was this movie so short!?

  • Leah Hather (Bright Eyes Long Lashes):

Grade: C+

The acting was strong, especially by Scoot McNairy, but the structure of the film felt weak whilst the tone of the film seemed confused.

  • Daniel Hollis:

Grade: A+

One of the best films of the year. Uses the current economic crisis and blends it in an old fashioned crime tale. Every action in the film essentially being a transaction, cleverly showing the chain of people involved in the drama. Backed with a stylistic sensibility, fantastic acting, and wonderful soundtrack makes it one of the must-sees of the year.

  • James Michael Holtz (WeWatchedAMovie):

Grade: A-

Amazingly shot film that may be mostly dialogue driven, but Brad Pitt’s character is so damn cool I would probably watch the guy do laundry for two hours. The political aspects of the film never take forefront and it’s a mob film first and foremost. The last line of the film is classic.

  • Steven Hunt:

Grade: A

Brad Pitt gives an Oscar-worthy performance in this movie. The dialogue and cinematography pulled me in and kept me enthralled the entire time. I also love the movie’s overall message, even if it does beat you over the head a little bit with it. Definitely not for everyone, but I loved it.

  • John Maffeo (Maffman Jones):

Grade: B

Great acting, cinematography, and mobster intensity create quite a unique experience for this film. The lead anchors in the cast impress and one could definitely feel a directorial influence, in terms to the story and composition. Despite it’s short run time, the pacing could feel very slow for those uninterested in what they are watching and some dialogue doesn’t go anywhere for plot progression. The best aspect of this film is the political message, but perhaps it is too much of a low blow for its own good. Not your average mob film, for sure!

  • Scott Menzel:

Grade: B

A real mixed bag. The performances are all top-notch and the violence is gritty, graphic and raw. The story, on the other hand, is predictable, boring, and very long-winded. The overall film presents solid direction, great acting, and great political undertones but is overshadowed by dull scenes that seem to go on forever and too much talking making an hour and forty minute film feel like it runs way over two hours. I liked this movie but definitely would recommend it for a DVD rental at best.

  • Daniel Rester:

Grade: B

Killing Them Softly feels long and is far too talky. It also beats the audience over the skull with its political messages, causing aggravation for intelligent viewers that enjoy some subtlety. Still, there are moments of brilliance sprinkled throughout it (particularly a shooting at an intersection), and Brad Pitt works his magic every step of the way.

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