Review: ‘Killing Them Softly’ (MA) ***

WHILE you’d not want to take granny to “Killing Them Softly” unless you knew she could cope with blood and brutality, it’s an entertaining little crime actioner in which Brad Pitt offers homilies comparing the realities of American society with the polemics, clichés and protestations of holders of high office.

And Barack Obama makes his feature film debut

Gambler Markie (Ray Liotta) arranges to hold up his own poker school and later boasts about it. Frankie (Scoot McNairy) and Russell (Aussie Ben Mendelsohn) repeat history, but keep the proceeds. And a bigger fish in the city’s gambling milieu engages stylish hit-man Coogan (Pitt) to sort things out and recover the money.

In one-on-one sequences with Coogan, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins and Mendelsohn play characters from society’s underbelly with brio and individual styles that engage the characters despite their essential dislikeability. Playing a junkie with a liquor-befuddled brain, Mendelsohn gets a well-merited third billing in the credits ahead of better-known American actors.

At Dendy, Hoyts and Limelight

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