The Max Violent Crime Thriller Is A Star-Studded Masterpiece

By TeeJay Small | Published

These days, film and TV projects that center on organized crime in society’s criminal underworld are all the rage, with shows such as Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, and The Sopranos raking in millions of viewers worldwide. One crime film, which focuses on the same kind of criminal activity, functions as a thinly veiled metaphor for the state of the American economy, just as the 2008 financial crisis plunged the world into economic uncertainty. The film, 2012’s Killing Them Softly, is a star-studded affair loaded with former Sopranos cast members, and is currently available to stream on Max.

An Andrew Dominik Film

Killing Them Softly was written and directed by Andrew Dominik, based on the 1974 novel Cogan’s Trade by George V. Higgins. Dominik is an Australian filmmaker primarily known for his work on music videos, though he does have a few major filmmaking credits under his belt, including 2000’s Chopper, 2007’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Redford, and most recently 2022’s Blonde. Killing Them Softly premiered at the 65th Cannes Film Festival in competition for the highly coveted Palme D’Or, though the film ultimately lost to the French language Romance Amour.

The Cast

Killing Them Softly touts a star-studded cast of A-listers, including Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, Scoot McNairy, and Ben Mendelsohn. The film also reunites James Gandolfini, Vincent Curatola, and Max Casella who each previously starred in The Sopranos as Tony Soprano, Johnny “Sack” Sacrimoni, and criminal mastermind Benny Fazio respectively. While Ray Liotta never appeared in the Sopranos television series, the iconic mob movie actor did take on two roles in the Sopranos prequel film The Many Saints Of Newark, which premiered in 2021.

Set During The 2008 Financial Crisis

The plot of Killing Them Softly takes place in Boston, Massachusetts during the financial crisis of 2008, as a pair of drug-addicted thugs rob an illegal card game run by a known associate of the mob. The associate in charge of the game had previously orchestrated a similar robbery as an inside job, making him an obvious suspect in the scheme. As a result of the successful score, all illegal card games of this variety are halted, sending the criminal economy into complete chaos, mirroring the plight of home and business owners during the financial crisis.

Brad Pitt As Hitman Jackie Cogan

To mitigate financial fallout, the mob hires hitman Jackie Cogan to hunt down the pair responsible for the robbery, and ease tensions within the criminal world. As Jackie hunts down his targets, he and his employers discuss the many business merits to murder, racketeering, and extortion, as cavalierly as they would discuss dinner reservations at a local restaurant. As Killing Them Softly continues to build to a thrilling climax, the film uncovers a few genuine parallels between the criminal underworld and the American government.

Stream The Masterpiece On Max

Killing Them Softly pleased critics and audiences alike, and opened to mostly positive reviews, resulting in a 74 percent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. The film also performed well at the box office, taking in just under $40 million on an estimated production budget of $15 million. For those who have not yet seen the political bloodbath, Killing Them Softly is available to stream on Max today.