Life of Crime – Movie review


Bobby Townsend reviews the new comedy/drama from Daniel Schechter, which is adapted from the work of Elmore Leonard:

You may recall author Elmore Leonard’s characters Ordell Robbie and Louis Gara being portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson and Robert De Niro in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. Well, now they’re back, this time played by Yasiin Bey and John Hawkes. Set fifteen years prior to the events of Jackie Brown, is the new ‘70s caper comedy, Life of Crime.

Fresh out of prison, the duo set their sights on Frank Dawson (played by Tim Robbins), a deeply unpleasant Detroit property developer and secret embezzler. Their plan is thus: they’ll kidnap Frank’s trophy wife, Mickey (Jennifer Aniston) and hold her for ransom. Easy, right? Well, no. Frank’s affections have already turned to a younger mistress (Isla Fisher) and he might not be in a rush to get to the bank in order to rescue his spouse.

Let’s start with the positives. The film looks authentically 70s. The strong cast perform well, the chemistry feels right in all its various permutations between characters. Jennifer Aniston is believable, Tim Robbins plays the arsehole role well and Isla Fisher is magnificent as the trashy bit on the side. John Hawkes too (the guy from Deadwood and Martha Marcy May Marlene, if you are struggling to place the name) plays the classic kidnapper-with-a-heart role well, considering it has been done to death. The dialogue is clever, the narrative for the most part keeps the audience entertained and there are a few laughs along the way.

However… and here is the familiar problem with comedy/dramas… the laughs aren’t strong enough or frequent enough to class this as a comedy and the action isn’t tense enough to make this a successful drama. Rather, it sits uncomfortably in the middle-ground. There are a few chuckles here and there and the narrative – while being genuinely intriguing for a long time – gets a little confusing and then fizzles out the further it progresses. Ultimately, Life of Crime lacks a certain spark. For a film that is little over 90 minutes long, it surprisingly runs out of steam. American Hustle, for instance, was much longer, but was better judged across the board in terms of pace, excitement and comedy.

So, while it is an enjoyable distraction, Life of Crime doesn’t really do anything new, out of the ordinary or memorable due to the fact that signs of real promise in its opening act are never quite followed though.

Life of Crime is released on 25 September 2014



Review by Bobby Townsend