Killing Them Softly, starring Brad Pitt as a jaded gangster, is a seedy tale of hopelessness in a world of theft, revenge, and plenty of violence. It's a worthwhile watch, though it doesn't quite achieve its goals:
- With "elements of Scorsese's grime and Tarantino's wit," the film is "nothing new, but it’s smartly done," writes Peter Howell in the Toronto Star. It's "a deeply cynical movie, with not much to say but a lot to feel. Everything sinks into your bones."
- The film offers an "agreeably scuzzy, small-time feeling," notes AO Scott in the New York Times. But it's "sapped of vitality by its own self-conscious, curatorial fastidiousness. It takes place entirely in a universe of tropes and archetypes, which is a polite way of saying clichés and pretensions."
- At Salon, Andrew O'Hehir didn't exactly "enjoy" the movie, but then, it's "a deliberately chilly and nerve-wracking experience, and one of the bleakest portraits of American society seen on-screen in the last several decades," he writes. Indeed, it "suffers from a nearly terminal case of undergraduate nihilist philosophy ... reaching for grand existential meaning and not quite getting there."
- At USA Today, Claudia Puig is less equivocal, calling the film "a stylish thriller worth seeing—despite its relentless violence—for its sharp dialogue, mesmerizing photography, and gritty performances."