Brad Pitt hits the mark as an ice-cool killer in slick gangster flick with all-star cast

Brad Pitt hits the mark as an ice-cool killer in slick gangster flick with all-star cast

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UPDATED:

01:02 GMT, 21 September 2012

KILLING THEM SOFTLY (18)

Verdict: Brutal but gripping

With a cast that includes Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini and Sam Shepard, this movie boasts an impressive ensemble.

But from the moment Brad Pitt appears — to the sound of Johnny Cash’s The Man Comes Around — there’s no doubting who the real star is here.

Set in 2008, against the backdrop of America’s financial meltdown, the film tells the story of an ill-fated heist at a mob-controlled poker game.

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Stealing the show: Brad Pitt comes out on top as hitman Jackie Cogan in Killing them Softy

Stealing the show: Brad Pitt comes out on top as hitman Jackie Cogan in Killing them Softy

When two incompetent crooks make off with the loot, hitman Jackie Cogan (Pitt, pictured), is called in to whack those responsible. Having stupidly admitted to staging a previous poker robbery, small-time mobster Markie — played with trademark jerky menace by Liotta — makes himself prime suspect for this one.

Jackie knows Markie didn’t do it, but doesn’t see why he shouldn’t die anyway.

Jackie treats his job with the indifference of someone who shuffles paper for a living. He finds it ‘embarrassing’ when victims plead for their lives or cry for their mothers when they have a gun to their head. That is why he likes to ‘kill them softly, from a distance’.

Director Andrew Dominik depicts the criminals as just as lazy and bungling as they are bloodthirsty and violent.

All-star cast: James Gandolfini also stars in the film set in 2008

All-star cast: James Gandolfini also stars in the film set in 2008

Gandolfini’s character, Mickey, is so drunk and bitter after his divorce that he’s incapable of carrying out a hit.

Sparky dialogue lends the film some fantastically funny moments, but the violence is not for the faint-hearted.

The political message — with Barack Obama’s hope-filled presidential campaign speeches playing while the gritty reality on the streets unfolds — becomes tiresome. At times, the movie also feels a little too hip for its own good.

Even so, it’s a slick, gripping film — and it confirms Pitt as cinema’s coolest, most charismatic star.

Now watch the trailer