Killing Them Softly

Released on November 30, 2012 0 comments

Despite his sometimes questionable choices, we remain firmly in Brad Pitt’s corner. Meaning we will overlook the fact that his face is plastered everywhere these days in absurdly comic proportions, hawking Chanel No. 5 – a distaff spritz. This had to be a one-off, and his hard-to-please wife must have leaned on him. No other explanation makes any sense for such a less-than-manly faux pas.

If only judging Bradley’s career were so easy.

This week he returns in a role much more suited to his talents than perfume pitchman. Upon first glance, “Killing Them Softly” seems like a typical trendy tumble with some low-level mobsters, lots of long leather jackets and cigarette puffers. Over the past several years, film gangsters have taken a turn away from the quasi glamorous lives and into more realistic portrayals, trading in flashy toys for corner stools in bars that never look clean. This is where we find the boys from “Killing.” Whether it will deliver a memorable punch can’t be deciphered from the previews.

As we said, Pitt looks more Pitt-ish than he has in some recent efforts. (He was excellent in 2011’s “Moneyball.”) No, we’re talking about big misses like “Inglorious Basterds,” and “Benjamin Button.” Though neither of those came close to being as heinous as “Babel,” Mexican Director Inarritu’s opaque and relentless take on a world being sucked through the bad end of a sewer pipe. In such a film, where any form of joy is ground into paste, there isn’t much room for someone like Pitt to maneuver. (Or anyone for that matter.)

Back before he started obeying his handlers, agents and Angelina, Pitt was a sturdy presence who never tried to overshoot his talent or limitations. He was memorable in “Seven” and “Thelma and Louise,” and unforgettable in the classics “A River Runs Through It,” and “True Romance.” Other worthy turns include “Spy Game” and the bookends of the “Ocean” series.

“Killing” has some heavy button men as well, including James Gandolfini. Even though he’s playing another gangster, he’s always worth a look. (“The Castle” notwithstanding.) Ray Liotta, Sam Shepard and Richard Jenkins are also in the mix. All in all, not a bad group to go to war with.

These are a few reasons why we have hope for “Killing,” even if we aren’t totally sold. Pitt is of the generation that has also given us Clooney, Damon, Affleck and Cheadle, boys who remain actual boys while pulling off a mixture of humor and heavy.

Then again, our opinion might change if he starts hawking Mascara or feminine hygiene.