Parents' Guide to

Killing Them Softly

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Brad Pitt is magnetic in smart, cynical, bloody crime movie.

Movie R 2012 97 minutes
Killing Them Softly Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 12+

More Realist than Cynical, Though No-less American

Jackie Cogan is not so much a cynic as he is a hard realist. His means of income notwithstanding, he is no less a tradesman; an American professional who acknowledges the conditions and consequences of the enterprise system of business and government that shapes the daily lives of so many other Americans.                                              That Cogan acknowledges that "America is a business, not a country" only relieves him of having to justify himself against the false pretenses of "civil justice", "moral equality" and the "rule of law" that have subdued most Americans and betrayed many more, especially those in the impoverished communities Cogan frequents. Moral plays and appeals to the ideal have seldom appeased the taxman, truth be told.                                              Enter the backdrop of the 2008 presidential election, a time defined by the height of America's most recent economic collapse due to fraudulent banking, sub-prime mortgage fraud and illegal public bailouts of the same private banks responsible for the collapse.                                              The parallels drawn against the collapse of the local criminal economy when mob-run gambling is suspended are not only brilliant, it justly reflects the nature of Wall Street. "Who's running things," wonders Cogan, to which a lawyer, the "corporate" go-between the streets and the mob bosses, reminds him of their "total corporate mindset" from his luxury sedan.                                              Remarkably, the foils between so many characters and circumstances are what reveal Writer/ Director Andrew Dominik's "Killing Them Softly" to be a rather considered and intellectually-driven story. Although Cogan and the lawyer are often at odds with each other, they are essentially the same character: one an enforcer on the street, the other an enforcer in the court. Eventually, after brief and entertaining philosophical differences, they no-less always arrive at a complimentary consensus: violence works!                                               "Killing Them Softly" is an accomplished and distinguished film whose time will surely come to be appreciated for its unapologetic and disillusioned portrait of the American condition entering the twenty-first century... just as soon as its critics take off their rose-tinted blinders!

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
age 18+

Too gritty and too real, with needlessly coarse vulgarity as a cherry on top.

Extreme language and extreme and needlessly lengthy coarse and vulgar discussions of sex and sexual excapades were enough to make me get up and leave after 20 minutes or so. I can't judge or grade the rest of the movie, but this should let some people know whether or not they want to bother with this slow paced mob and crime movie. I would recommend spending the $10 on some other film, but I'm sure this movie's gritty realism is fine for some among us, and the acting was as excellent as expected from such as Pitt and Liotta, as well as from the less well known supporting cast.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (5):

While this movie doesn't particularly advance or comment upon the crime genre, it does stand as a prime example of it. With KILLING THEM SOFTLY, New Zealand director Andrew Dominik, who also made the great The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, concentrates more on colorful dialogue than on action, but without the jokey, self-effacing quality of much of the post-Tarantino generation. Set in 2008 during the financial crisis and presidential election, the movie has a very cynical worldview; it attempts to draw a line between these events and organized crime, although it doesn't burrow very deep with the idea.

Dominik's set pieces are outstanding, rich with atmosphere and rhythmic dialogue, including a couple of playful flashbacks and a mesmerizing scene that vividly portrays a heroin high, as well as some ironic use of pop music. Pitt is especially commanding, using his hypnotic quality to take control of every scene.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate