The tagline for Killing Them Softly – Three dumb guys who think they’re smart rob a Mob protected card game, causing the local criminal economy to collapse – pretty much says it all about this film. The script is mundane, the characters are all so sleazy they deserve everything that happens to them, and the dialogue so full of profanity it’s a tune-out through and through.
Probably the only reason the film received a green light is because of its all-star cast – Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, and Sam Shepard.
Based on the crime novel by George V. Higgins Cogan’s Trade, the story is simple. Markie (Liotta) runs an elite game room where mobsters routinely congregate. One night he gets a brave idea to plan a robbery and steal all of their money. He’s so proud of himself that he later tells the guys he was the one that set it up.
Naturally, many don’t think this is funny. When word about it gets around it gives – Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Ben Mendelsohn) the idea to repeat the robbery. They’re sure everyone will think it was Markie again. Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola), joins the two thugs and when Markie is questioned by mobsters to reveal who took the money, Markie is almost beaten to death.