Killing Them Softly

October 23, 2014


This is a film a grown up Tarantino would make. A more mature Quentin who would have been bored by now for childish violent imagery while still retaining the quasi-comic book feeling of a parallel universe that exists in the underbelly of our everyday society. A more mature version of Tarantino would be overtly political like Killing Them Softly is, versus being impartial to the society that nurtures such infidelity.


The aim of the political arrow tries to tie in a dysfunctional, malfunctioning society to the inheritance of what America is; that is not to say the film actually has the audacity to assert America has always been about thuggery, but there is a cynicism that America has always been fraudulent. It has always been about not so much taking from others as it has been about keeping what one has. It’s actually a splendid depiction of the film’s thesis and the entire metal gears that begin to revolve. Theft in the film initiates a trickle down of justice. Or maybe not so much justice as it is retribution, an eye for an eye.


It’s a bit puzzling why the juxtaposition of the cynicism of self-interest with America’s current turmoil exists. Not so much as to the reason, because that is clear, that self-interest is what is the original sin of man and everything that he creates, America included. One, the film argues, is delusional if one thinks the world is better. And yet notice the presumption of egalitarianism; why is self-disinterest a good thing?


Of course because it appears that a lack of regard for oneself implies a regard for others and hence a morality that leads life’s activity toward improving those around him. And to follow this line of logic, others will improve him through the same act. It is the selfish few who disrupt the entire harmonious melody. Yet is it necessarily the case that the improvement of others can be done exclusively through self-disinterest? What if it is possible that self-perfection is an act of unselfish-improvement as well?


Self-perfection is entirely possible. The question then is if it is possible that the education of self-perfection is a higher form of self-disinterest than the brute act of altruism? This is to stab at the eye of the film and say: what if self-responsibility is the highest moral good for mankind?


Yet the film is even consistent with this premise. For we can read the malfunctioned America not as the awakening of its original sin, but of its divergence from the ideal its founders set for posterity. That Thomas Jefferson imagined his children to be a better man than he, versus viewing the author of the assertion of natural rights in humanity, a divine act of throttling transcendence into human actuality, as a hypocrite. Instead, we have a story of miscreants because they have no other way to live higher. They feast like scavengers, bottom-feeders truly.


Does a Tarantino film ever achieve this powerful contemplation?

Grade: A-




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