Killing Them Softly is one of the best films of the year. It bristles with palpable energy as it dissects its targets with such focused precision and skill. You wouldn’t guess it from appearances, but Andrew Dominik’s third feature in twelve years is an adaptation of a 1974 novel by George V Higgins named Cogan’s Trade. Swapping the book’s take on 1970s savagery for a modern day look at America through the eyes of criminals, Dominik’s film, which he also wrote the screenplay for, is an exhilarating experience that had me giddy. Playing like the anti-Drive (the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed crime thriller that I labelled the best film of 2011) as if set within the same miserable world as another Brad Pitt-starrer, Se7en, Killing Them Softly will surely raise the ire of many viewers expecting a kick-ass Brad Pitt heist movie. What it is, instead, is a lean, mean take on the modern world as seen through the eyes of those who live outside the law, but must face the realities of the world they inhabit.
If we're going by American release dates (and I tend to do so in general discussion because I kinda forget what films we had to wait for and what we didn't, which causes a chasm in the public discussion) then Killing Them Softly is the best film of the year and I genuinely believe Scoot McNairy - of whom I was already a huuuge fan - gives one of the best performances by anybody this year. Is he gonna explode soon or is he too weaselly for the big crowds?