If the term 'offbeat' could be assigned to Hollywood flicks as well, 'Killing Them Softly' would fit in well there. Despite starring Brad Pitt in it (who actually does occasionally dabble in films which aren't quintessentially commercial), the film doesn't quite adopt a narrative which is entertaining right through it's duration in order to cater to larger segment of audience. Instead, it turns out to be one of those budget controlled flicks which have their sight on critical acclaim than commercial success.
As it happens in case of 'Killing Them Softly' though, despite a catchy (and intriguing) title as well as an arresting theme (about a hit-man), the film is basically for the festival circuits and doesn't quite leave you totally satiated once the end credits start rolling.
Brad Pitt plays a killer who likes to eliminate his targets from a distance in order to avoid any emotional upheaval, hence justifying the film's title. He also has much more than just a point of view on America's economic-social-political situation. He finds himself in a situation where there is a poker game, a veteran hit-man, a mobster and some upstart gangsters. Pitt has a job in hand and the story promises enough meat for a dark and edgy narrative.
So far so good. However a film like this could take either of the two approaches. Either it takes a bang-bang route (which does risk getting monotonous after all) or have the kind of spunk, edit pattern and some quirky characters (as is the hallmark of films coming from the house of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie) which lends enough ingredients to the narrative so as to result in a mouth watering dish.
Unfortunately none of that happens in case of 'Killing Them Softly'. Neither does the film end up becoming an out and out action affair nor does it have ample spice that would make you lick your lips. Instead, it turns out to be a dialogue heavy film which tries to chew a little too much but not to much avail. Yes, occasionally you do enjoy the proceedings, especially when Pitt spits fire when sharing his views about America or the way he feels about his job. However such moments are far and few which means one has to deal with ample pauses in its running time (which thankfully is short at around 90 minutes).
Watch it only if you have ample patience and love mob films which are unconventional and aren't bound by Hollywood rules.