Opening: Killing Them Softly 

“America is a business,” hit man Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) says at the end of writer-director Andrew Dominik’s bleak crime drama based on George V. Higgins’s novel Cogan’s Trade. Dominik makes that theme explicit in his adaption, setting it during the height of the recession and including numerous clips of George W. Bush addressing a panicked nation. Things are so bad that a couple of losers (Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn) take a risk by robbing an illegal card game and splitting the profits with their belligerent buddy Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola). But when the guys can’t keep their traps shut, a Jackie comes to town to unleash a bit of payback. Jackie, who confesses he likes to “kill them softly,” is a sophisticated and articulate killer who dislikes corporate power and bureaucracy. As much as the movie makes a significant statement, it’s also too slow-moving and somber.

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