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 governs the 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 most Americans' have been failed by and fallen victim to already. 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 eponymous with the height of America's most recent economic collapse due to fraudulent securitization, sub-prime mortgage fraud and illegal public bailouts of private interests.
The parallels drawn and juxtaposed against the collapse of the local criminal economy due to the suspension of mob-run card games are not only brilliant, it justly reflects the nature of Wall Street. "Who's runnin' things," wonders Cogan. "Total corporate mindset," Driver reminds us from his luxury sedan, Cogan's "corporate" go-between who is also a lawyer, no less!
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 Driver 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 distinguishable 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!
[FIVE STARS/ *****]