Director: Andrew Dominik
Stars: Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, Richard Jenkins, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini, Sam Shepard, Slaine, Vincent Curatola
Release date: October 19

On the surface, Killing Them Softly seems like a more prestigious version of countless older movies about gangsters, robberies gone bad, and shotgun-packing hit men. The plot alone is fairly routine: A couple of deadbeats (Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn) stick up a high-stakes card game, setting off a series of misunderstandings amongst several marked-for-death mob types and a few hired guns (chiefly, Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini).

Having seen the film, though, we can attest to the fact that Killing Them Softly is the real deal. First off, it's written and directed by the same guy who made Pitt's exceptional and sorely slept-on 2007 flick The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik), so you know it's in good hands. But what truly separates Killing Them Softly from its like-minded predecessors is its unflinching cynicism, so shrewdly employed by Dominik that every line of fuck-the-man dialogue cuts deep into the script's views of have-nots hustling for dollars by any means necessary. It also doesn't hurt that the film's knockout cast is uniformly superb, namely Pitt, Gandolfini, and relative newcomer McNairy (Monsters).

It's not going to win many awards, but for a dark piece of violent, unpleasantly funny entertainment, Killing Them Softly works like gangbusters.