Why 2012 film “Killing Them Softly” is still applicable in 2022

I have a hard time with movies centered around villainous individuals. I don’t enjoy video games like Grand Theft Auto or films like Goodfellas or even The Godfather. I just don’t like watching stories about bad guys. It just so happens, however, that the movies about gangsters and mobsters are almost always really fucking good.

Mobsters have tongues of gold

The film Killing Them Softly is based off a 1974 novel called Cogan’s Trade. The story follows a hitman as he helps a local mob unit track and gun down a couple of uppity idiots after they rob a mob-endorsed gambling hall. The 2012 film stars Brad Pitt and Ray Liotta, along with a couple of other underappreciated heavy hitters in Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy. The movie, along with being written by a fantastic novelist, is directed by director Andrew Dominik and supported by legendary cinematographer Greig Fraser, of Dune and The Batman fame. In short, this film was created by a team of absolute powerhouses.

The true strength of this film, as all gangsters films, is drawn from its excellent script. Each character is given a set of fantastic, realistic, believable dialogues. The direction as well is given quite a bit of purpose, along with the inspired cinematography. While the film and the story is short and succinct, it’s a complete strength and benefit to the film. A total of maybe five things happen, and there’s no reason to include any more than that. Except… they do…

A political commentary from the trenches of America

While the novel was written in 1974, the film was produced in 2012, about four years after the Great Recession and presidential election of 2008, yet the film itself takes place in this year. There’s a reason why the film juxtapositions itself against one of the greatest political upheavals in modern American society. The collapse hurt a lot of people, but it likely also forced a lot of other people into conducting unsavory businesses. While this particular film and group of mobsters seem overarchingly unaffected by this economic collapse, excerpts from the news keep us reminded of the fact that this collapse was at the forefront of everyone’s minds during this time, even the lawbreakers and drug addicts.

As American society crumbles and unravels in the face of wrongdoings by a select few individuals, millions of others have suffered because of it. Indeed, the recession scarred American politics, economics and society in a way that even a 2012 film couldn’t have predicted. The collective trust in our country’s institutions continues to waver, so much so that the satire film Don’t Look Up ended up being as accurate to society as the fictional drama Contagion. Yet, these mobsters plough on. Murdering, robbing and plundering their way forward, disillusioned with the system. Pitt’s final line delivers a haymaker by throwing the film’s entire social commentary on American society in one moment. “Fuck you. Pay me.”

It’s depressing that this film from 10 years ago still applies to modern America. I truly hope that in my lifetime this film’s message stops applying to our society.


While there are no titties, Brad Pitt is pretty as ever. He’s even hotter when delivering a sexy Boston accent.

You can stream Killing them Softly on Netflix or Hulu.

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