Review: Killing Them Softly (2012)

killing them softly poster

“Don’t make me laugh. I’m living in America. And in America, you’re on your own. America is not a country. It’s just a business. Now pay me.”
– Jackie Cogan

Johnny “Squirrel” Amato (Vincent Curatola) has a plan to hit down a poker game of Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta). He is unafraid of the Mafia and what they will do seeing as Markie previously paid two guys to rob his poker game and later claimed from insurance. He was immediately suspected, but persuaded hitman Dillon (Sam Shepard) that he had nothing to do with it. Later he admits it to various people, though he suffers nothing. With this history, Squirrel is convinced that the Mafia will look no further than Markie to rectify his plans. He hires Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) to knock over the joint for him.

killing them softly heist
“I don’t know what it is with these guys; they can’t keep their mouths shut about nothing.” – Jackie Cogan

The two successfully hold up the game and rob the player and leave. However, retribution is in order, and the Mafia representative , Driver (Richard Jenkins), hires Dillon’s partner Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt), and explains the situation. Jackie understands that Markie was not involved with the latest robbery, he feels that Markie’s death would restore the mobsters’ buoyancy in the local gambling scene again, seeing as it has been so disrupted. Driver is uneasy about the suggestion. Russell shares his robbery participation with Kenny Gill (Slaine) in Florida, who lets Jackie in on what he knew.

killing them softly negotiations
“I like to kill them softly, from a distance. Not close enough for feelings.” – Jackie Cogan

Frankie is freaked out, knowing that someone is going to strike back to bring about a balance in the system again, and is furious that Russell would be as stupid as to blabber about what they did. Jackie cannot kill Squirrel because he knows him, so he brings in Mickey Fallon (James Gandolfini) in to do the job. Fallon is on parole in New York. It seems that no one is safe from Jackie’s reach and intent to clean up everything in the situation.

killing the softly
“Don’t tell me what I do.” – Mickey Fallon

Jackie needs total control over the show, and starts getting edgy with Mickey and his lack of professionalism as well as all the complications that are arising in a simple clean-up matter. Will anyone escape Jackie’s madness? Will the whole debacle be sorted out, everyone pay their dues, and others be forgiven? What is Jackie’s plan behind this? What is it about Jackie that Dillon trusts, subjecting everyone to the same laws as he is?

A 5/10 for this. I don’t know, I was not particularly enamoured with this. I truly enjoy watching Brad Pitt, but I thought this film was a little bit too all over the show. Also, it was not compelling. I didn’t care what was happening, and thought that the entire premise fell flat. It felt extremely long, too. Brad Pitt was alright, but even he didn’t do much in the way of saving this film for me. It was very disappointing. The story was not as deep as they portrayed it to be, and there was no real character development. The ending was alright, but felt a little bit rushed. Nothing about this movie stuck with me, and the more I sit here and think about it, the more I realize there was nothing memorable, nothing to identify with, no real characters, no great soundtrack, average camera work, all of that. Sucks, cause I really wanted to be impressed. A decent cast, and I wanted to see Brad Pitt do something excellent again. This is definitely not it. Not something I plan to watch again anytime soon and not something that I would recommend.

Review: The Place Beyond The Pines (2012)

the place beyond the pines movie poster

“If you ride like lightning, you’re going to crash like thunder.”
– Robin Van Der Zee

Passing through Altamount, New York, motorcycle stuntman for traveling act for state fairs Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) gets visited by his ex-lover, Romina (Eva Mendes). He returns a year later to discover from her mother Malena (Olga Merediz) that he is the father of a young boy. Intent on being in his son’s life, Luke quits the fair and meets Robin Van Der Zee (Ben Mendelsohn), who gives him a job at his auto repair shop. Luke is not making the money he needs to provide for Romina, her mother and her son, and she is not willing to leave her new man, Kofi (Mahershala Ali). This sparks unrest, and Luke gets desperate. In his desperation, he is roped in to Robin’s plans to rob banks to make money quickly, and the two team up to make a small fortune. However, an altercation with Kofi leads to Luke getting locked up and later bailed out, and Robin calls for an end to their bank robbing ways. This is simply not good enough for Luke, who will do it on his own then.

the place beyond the pines family
“I’m still his father, I can give him stuff. I got this for him, just give it to him. Tell him it’s from me.” – Luke

Naturally, there was no way that that was going to go down well, and in the escape, Luke is killed by Officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) just after telling Romina to never tell their son about him. A new chapter begins in which Avery is the hero in the story, but soon things go awry. Friends in the police force, corrupt cops Scotty (Gabe Fazio) and Peter Deluca (Ray Liotta) take Avery to the house of Romina, where they harass her and later steal the money that Luke left for his son. Avery is wracked with guilt, and attempts to report the abuse that was rained down upon Romina and her family to his commanding officer. This does not make matters better, naturally, and Avery goes from being the city hero to the most hated man in the precinct. Turning to his father, Al (Harris Yulin), Avery manages to get incriminating evidence which he uses to secure his position as the assistant district attorney.

the place beyond the pines cop shop
“I joined the police force because I wanted to work alongside the brave men and women who know that some problems can’t be solved by talking.” – Avery Cross

Fifteen years after the debacle that was Luke’s death and the launchpad for Avery’s career, Avery’s father passes. His ex-wife, Jannifer (Rose Byrne) tells him that his son, AJ (Emory Cohen), insists that he wishes to stay with his father. Avery is in the midst of campaigning for the position of Attorney General, but finally relents. Starting school AJ meets up with Jason (Dane DeHaan). Together the boys have their own family issues, but become friends for a short while after smoking some pot together. However, after buying some ecstasy, the two are arrested by police. Avery is furious with his son, but shocked to discover at the police station that his son was with Jason, the son of Luke Glanton. He gets the charges squashed a bit and demands that AJ no longer see Jason. Boys will be boys, though soon each boy’s lives begin to crack and crumble. AJ, the rebel with the successful father, wishes to walk over everyone and be hero worshipped. Jason demands to know more about his family, though no one is willing to give him answers.

“I know you don’t have time to deal with this stuff right now…” – AJ Cross

Slowly but surely each boy digs their way further into things that were better left unsaid and undone. Will AJ continue to bend Jason to his will? Will Avery ever be able to admit that what he did to Luke was wrong, and that he rode through that accident to success? Will Jason ever learn more about his father, discover his secrets, dig around more and understand things that were always denied him? How will all these characters come together, and how will they impact one another. One mishap years ago seems to resonate through the past and into the present and future.

This film scores a well-founded 8/10 for The Place Beyond The Pines. I really enjoyed how you could see the three distinct “chapters” of this movie, so to speak, and it has a pretty decent cast. It was interesting to see how Luke was always going to be an outlaw, regular just wasn’t ever going to work for him. It is sad to see how he goes from wanting any and everything to do with his child to not existing in his child’s eye. Bradley Cooper was great as a regular cop who went in and had his whole life changed around because his nerves were shot. How he maneuvered his way into higher office than he was was excellent, though it was rough to see a good cop become just another one of those crappy corrupt men. The divine intervention that brought the sons together was interesting, too. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the camera work for the movie, and everything was well shot and looked stunning. The movie feels a lot longer than it is, and not because it is not a good flick or boring, just due to the sheer amount of story that they manage to squeeze into their time frame. Dane DeHaan had another excellent performance, and I truly feel that he is a vastly underrated actor who deserves a lot more recognition. Not a bad watch at all, I was pleasantly surprised, seeing as I had no idea what to expect after Luke was killed. Not bad.