Killing Them Softly Vs. Lawless

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Killing Them Softly Vs. Lawless


Two gritty crime dramas open in cinemas this week, Killing Them Softy andLawless. Both films boast heavy-weight casts and large Australian influences, but which is the better of the two?

Killing Them Softly is set in the modern day, at the time of the last American Presidential Election. It starts with two petty thieves (Scott McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn) who rip off some gangsters and then snowballs into a series of underworld killings and complications.

It’s helmed by Australian director Andrew Dominik, who made a huge impact with local film Chopper, and followed with The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, starring Brad Pitt.

Dominik reteams with Pitt for Killing Them Softly, but has also enlisted a huge supporting cast, including gangster icons Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini, plus Richard Jenkins, who has one of the best resumes of any actor working in Hollywood today.

But even next to these massive names, it’s Australia’s Ben Mendelsohn who steals the film as the low-life crim at the centre of it all. Hopefully he gets more work as a result.

As with Chopper, Killing Them Softly combines gritty crime drama with extremely dark humour. In the same vein as Animal Kingdom and Snowtown, the heavy violence makes an even bigger impact because of its non-glorified and very realistic depiction. It hits close to home because it feels like it could be happening just a couple of suburbs away.

Killing Them Softly is definitely one of the best films of the year, but this is mostly due to the fact that everything else is quite disappointing. Case and point: Lawless.

Lawless should have been great, with a script from Nick Cave, directed by John Hillcoat (The Proposition, The Road) and starring Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf,Jessica Chastain and Australian’s Guy Pearce and Mia Wasikowska. But even with all that promise, it’s completely forgettable.

Cave’s screenplay is an adaption of the novel The Wettest Country in the World, which tells the true story of the Bondurant brothers (Hardy, LaBeouf and Jason Clarke), who illegally distributed moonshine during the American depression.

To be honest, it’s not a bad film – it’s just not a good film either. It’s well made, well written and well acted, but nothing really happens. All the good parts are skipped over quickly, some characters appear and disappear without explanation, and the climax is very disappointing.

The most frustrating thing about this movie is Hardy’s accent. He basically just grunts and mumbles through his dialogue, to the point where they should have used subtitles.

If you’re going to watch a movie on the weekend and you’ve already seenLooper, I recommend Killing Them Softly. As far as quality and originality go, it beats Lawless on all fronts.