22 September 2012 4:07 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Brad Pitt plays a hitman in this brilliant thriller, updated from a 70s crime novel to the America of 2008 at a political crossroads

With Killing Them Softly the Australian writer-director Andrew Dominik confirms his reputation as a film-maker of great confidence with a steady eye and a sharp focus on what to date is a single subject: crime as a way of life. His first picture, Chopper, made 12 years ago, was a portrait of the notorious Mark "Chopper" Read, a psychopathic criminal, terrifyingly impersonated by Eric Bana, who became some sort of national hero in Australia as a bestselling author and a media celebrity. Dominik, however, expected audiences to bring too much with them in the way of existing knowledge of the man and his background. As a result, for British moviegoers at least, the film, though gripping, took place in a social vacuum.

There was no such problem with his second picture, »

- Philip French

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