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‘Killing Them Softly’ Trailer: Five Key Scenes

Published: August 2, 2012 | 7:06 am
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Brad Pitt oozes cool in first sneak peek of the gritty crime drama.

Aug 1 2012
Great news for those who weren’t lucky enough to make the trip to the south of France for the Cannes premiere of  ”Killing Them Softly”: At long last, the first trailer has arrived!

The two-and-a-half-minute sneak peek offers an extended glimpse of Brad Pitt doing his gritty crime-drama best as Jackie Cogan, a hit man hired by a crime boss (Ray Liotta) to find and kill a pair of overzealous upstarts who attempt to stake their claim by robbing a high-profile card game staged by Liotta’s character.

The film also stars James Gandolfini, Sam Shepard, Richard Jenkins, Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn and is based on George V. Higgins’ 1974 Boston mobster novel “Cogan’s Trade.” Here are the five key scenes from the first full-length trailer:

Cool Hand Brad
Before we saw Pitt as hit man Cogan, we knew the role would be a perfect way for the Oscar nominee to show off his effortless cool, which is exactly what he does as he questions the two nervous criminals, upsells the boss/moneyman (Richard Jenkins) and strolls casually through scenes sporting tinted aviator sunglasses, hair slicked back and a general casually cool swagger, all set to the tune of Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around.”

It’s All in a Name
It’s rare that we hear the basis for a film’s title in the dialogue of a trailer, but in this case, Pitt’s Cogan lays it out for us: “You ever kill anyone?” he asks someone casually. “They cry, they plead for their mothers. I like to kill ‘em softly,” he continues, “from a distance.” And with that brief line of dialogue, we learn all we need to know about Cogan’s work philosophy.

James Gandolfini, Back Where We Want Him
Gandolfini’s New York Mickey is not Tony Soprano, but he’s close enough to have us excited to watch the Emmy winner throw around some muscle and drink martinis. We don’t get to see Mickey and Cogan working side by side, but it’s clear that they both operate with a calm, no-nonsense approach to their work and that they are not to be messed with, as exemplified by Gandolfini’s one outburst in the trailer: “I don’t take orders from you!”

Violence as Art
While the plot of the film is the familiar gritty crime drama, director Andrew Dominik (“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”) has made the violence and crime almost balletic with his lateral camerawork and use of slow-motion in certain action scenes. He also seems to have neatly paired the violence with quiet moments of dialogue that keeps the story moving and the entertainment levels up.

Quotes to Remember
Speaking of those quiet moments of dialogue, the brief snippets we hear from each and every castmember indicate that we’ll be quoting their lines when we leave the theater. In addition to the “kill them softly” line, Richard Jenkins puts things into perspective with his “This is a business of relationships” explanation for their hired-killers trade. The kicker, though, is the trailer’s final line of dialogue, as delivered by Pitt: “I’m living in America, and in America, you’re on your own.”


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