Metascore
64

Generally favorable reviews - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 42
  2. Negative: 2 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Nov 28, 2012
    100
    Killing them Softly is a lurid and nasty little nihilistic hitman noir, with an ingenuity that sneaks up on you.
  2. Reviewed by: Kevin Jagernauth
    Sep 3, 2012
    100
    Uncompromising and uncommercial, divisive and brave, Killing Them Softly bitterly boils at the state of the nation.
  3. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Sep 3, 2012
    100
    The film is terribly smart in every respect, with ne'er-a-false note performances and superb craft work from top to bottom.
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Sep 3, 2012
    100
    This is an unrepentantly cynical take on the hope-and-change promised to the US in 2008; this year's election race makes it look even bleaker, an icily confident black comedy of continued disillusion.
  5. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Nov 29, 2012
    88
    Jolting, suspenseful, full of twisted sympathy for its goons' row of characters, and wickedly amusing to boot, Killing Them Softly summons up the ghosts of "Goodfellas" and a whole nasty tradition of crime pics. And then it lets its ghosts go, whacking and thwacking away.
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Nov 29, 2012
    88
    A bleakly comic, brutally Darwinian gangland saga that at times comes close to being this year's "Drive." It also does something that, if you're from around these parts, seems downright perverse. It takes the Boston out of George V. Higgins.
  7. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Nov 29, 2012
    88
    Even some who generally enjoy gangster films may be turned off by this one, with its focus on dialogue over action and its harsh style.
  8. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Nov 30, 2012
    83
    The dialogue is sharp and so are the performances. Andrew Dominik directed this neo-noir in a low-key comic style that's alternately gritty and fancy. The gritty stuff is best.
  9. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Nov 29, 2012
    83
    The movie isn't political so much as philosophical, trashing the notion of the American dream as anything more than fodder for an endless rat race.
  10. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Nov 28, 2012
    83
    For a genre film, Killing Them Softly goes to an awfully strange, none-too-subtle place, but the choice to move the '08 election from background to overlay is unusually bold and thought-provoking, too.
  11. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Nov 30, 2012
    80
    This is a deliberately chilly and nerve-wracking experience, and one of the bleakest portraits of American society seen on-screen in the last several decades.
  12. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Nov 29, 2012
    80
    Killing Them Softly has more unruly energy, and less art-house pretension, than "The Assassination of Jesse James." Its disreputability does come with a faintly arty sheen sprayed on - the picture could be a little grubbier, but let's not split hairs, especially such nice, greasy ones.
  13. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Nov 29, 2012
    75
    Brad Pitt is in ecstasy here, despite the cool demeanor throughout. This is an actor who is never better and never happier than when he gets to be seedy, slick his hair back and wear a leather jacket.
  14. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Nov 29, 2012
    75
    There's nothing touchy-feely about Killing Them Softly, a stylish thriller worth seeing -- despite its relentless violence -- for its sharp dialogue, mesmerizing photography and gritty performances.
  15. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Nov 29, 2012
    75
    Killing Them Softly isn't anything major. But it's a pungent minor film only vaguely resembling the one The Weinstein Co. is advertising, and that's fine with me.
  16. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Nov 29, 2012
    75
    Murder is just another day at the office for corporate America, and the film hammers that theme home with diminishing returns. But the acting is aces, especially Pitt mixing it up with the superb James Gandolfini.
  17. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Nov 29, 2012
    70
    If gangsterism is just capitalism in a more raw form, then Jackie is the creature best suited for this world. He knows the rules and enforces them without prejudice, because it's just business and this is just a job. Killing Them Softly doesn't give that idea its intended sting.
  18. 70
    He's [Pitt] not particularly inventive - with his appraising eyes and a toothpick in his mouth, he's like Redford without the edge - but he uses his stardom cannily, to kill with softness.
  19. Reviewed by: Mark Keizer
    Oct 24, 2012
    70
    Killing Them Softly tries hard - and succeeds - to be a film of the now with its political parallels right in front of us. Yet it's also an invisible companion to the dirty business at hand - and it is a business.
  20. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Sep 3, 2012
    70
    A routine, even mundane crime story relayed in tones of world-weary fatigue, Killing Them Softly deglams the mob movie to coolly distinctive if rarely pulse-quickening effect.
  21. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Nov 28, 2012
    67
    Nobody dies softly here; they're mutilated, splattered in blood and vomit, set up by people who'll get theirs soon.
  22. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Nov 29, 2012
    63
    A stylish, brutal affair that delivers grim atmosphere and punishing violence but loses impact in telegraphing its political punches.
  23. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Nov 29, 2012
    63
    Like the politicians it tries to pull into the big picture, Killing Them Softly promises more than it delivers.
  24. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Nov 30, 2012
    60
    His (Andrew Dominik) film delivers when it matters, especially with its crystallizing final lines. Not only do they wrap a bow on what ends up being a treatise on the uglier side of capitalism, but they stand among the most memorable closing lines in recent Hollywood history.
  25. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Nov 29, 2012
    60
    The writer-director becomes so intent on hammering home the parallels between economic decay, political disappointments and petty criminals, there is nothing soft, or subtle, about it. He should trust his audience more.
  26. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Nov 29, 2012
    60
    While McNairy and Mendelsohn are solid but almost too showy, Liotta, Jenkins, Sam Shepard and a chewy supporting cast beautifully fill in the blanks. Killing Them Softly adds each of its characters to a punchy, prosaic tale that believes in America, one way or another.
  27. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Nov 26, 2012
    60
    What is most disconcerting about Dominik's film is his choice of rhythm. We pass from reams of conversation, or cantankerous monologue, to throes of extreme violence, then back to the flood of words - most of them to do with buying, selling, slaying, whoring, or doing time.
  28. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Sep 17, 2012
    60
    A good, efficient crime thriller, let down by clunky social commentary but lifted by excellent performances, including perhaps Brad Pitt's recent best.
  29. Reviewed by: Jonathan Crocker
    Sep 3, 2012
    60
    Tough, stylish, violent and studded with stars – but like so many of its American gangsters, Killing Them Softly doesn't quite get the job done.
  30. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Nov 29, 2012
    58
    It's a fine idea, but Dominik beats that drum without cease, making his passionately furious message come across anything but softly.
  31. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Nov 29, 2012
    50
    I might forgive the slow start if it weren't for the slow middle and slow end.
  32. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Nov 29, 2012
    50
    The film, for all its visual felicities, comes to life only sporadically.
  33. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Nov 29, 2012
    50
    Killing Them Softly possesses a modicum of swagger and style, even as it perpetuates some of the crime genre's more tedious cliches, from slow-motion savagery to facile cynicism.
  34. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Nov 28, 2012
    50
    The charisma of such actors as Gandolfini, Pitt, Liotta and Jenkins depends largely on their screen presences and our memories of them in better roles.
  35. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Nov 28, 2012
    50
    As with his previous film "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," Dominik's ideas get the better of his creative handiwork as he throws off his pacing to follow points he has already made.
  36. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Sep 3, 2012
    50
    Despite enough pummeling to flatten Rocky Balboa in all six movies, the only thing that truly rewards your attendance is Pitt in another effortless star performance.
  37. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Nov 30, 2012
    40
    The film is ultimately done in by Dominik's bursts of directorial grandiosity.
  38. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Nov 29, 2012
    40
    In spite of the golden presence of Brad Pitt as the killer, a level-headed professional named Jackie Cogan, the movie has an agreeably scuzzy, small-time feeling.
  39. Reviewed by: Karina Longworth
    Nov 27, 2012
    40
    It's a movie that shows, and then tells, tells, and tells again, its vibrant conjuring of contemporary cynicism felled by Dominik's lack of faith in his audience's ability to connect thematic dots.
  40. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Nov 27, 2012
    40
    Only Gandolfini comes off as a character as opposed to an effigy, his sad-sack posture and f-it-all unprofessionalism truly capturing the tragedy of a working man with a one-way ticket to 99-percenter hell.
  41. Reviewed by: Calum Marsh
    Nov 11, 2012
    38
    The film's cynicism, like everything else, is nothing more than empty posturing, a fashionable pose adopted to ingratiate itself with a disenfranchised public.
  42. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Nov 28, 2012
    25
    A filthy, pretentious, brutally violent and utterly pointless load of rubbish called Killing Them Softly.
User Score
5.9

Mixed or average reviews- based on 219 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 39 out of 73
  2. Negative: 21 out of 73
  1. Dec 4, 2012
    0
    This is the absolute worst movie I've seen in a few years. The movie thinks it's clever, but it's not. It's hammering its point about it all being some kind of metaphor for the economic crisis home so hard I doubt even the biggest idiot could miss it.
    Then there's the dialogue. Oh my dear lord the dialogue. Sometimes inane banter in a movie is fun. Or good. Or both. Or it serves to really flesh out the character. They have to be actually interesting or fun in order to pull that off. That way, the dialogues won't feel like they're nine damn hours long.
    The action is of course not the point of a movie like this, but it's very well executed, I have to admit. It looks beautiful, realistic and brutal. But by the time you get to one of these scenes, you just don't care any more. You hate the movie for what it put you through so far. You want it to be over.
    Only film snobs will like this. They will claim you are not intelligent enough to 'get' this movie. The truth is everyone gets it. And sometimes, just sometimes, a movie just is really, really, really dull. Not clever. Dull.
    Full Review »
  2. Dec 29, 2012
    5
    In summary : a below average crime-noir with some dark-comedy elements, and some not-so-subtle social criticism. I think the movie's plot (which was rather thick) was stretched to fill a 90 minutes movie, while in reality the movie would be much better as a short film, with around 60 minutes running time. I think the movie was overlong with unnecessary conversations between Brad Pitt's and James Gandolfini's character, The social criticism in the movie was straight to your face. I felt the director wanted to force his views on the viewer again and again on the most pretentious ways (on every television screen or radio people were watching or listening to the president and the candidate's speeches). The acting was good (especially Ben Mendelsohn). The camera works and CGI sometimes felt forced, like the director tried to be "modern" with the slo-motion scenes for example. I think a more "classic" visual approach would suit the rather simple story better. It certainly will not be my favourite movie this year. Full Review »
  3. Dec 12, 2012
    8
    Well written and articulate I would imagine this is not the film a lot of people were expecting. I know I wasn't, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the end result. Director Andrew Dominik has certainly got a way with actors and imagery and the film is both stylish and very well acted. Ben mendelsohn is delicious in his drugged out supporting turn and the film's opening scene just grabbed me and then never let go. Full Review »