Greetings all and Happy Saturday wherever you may be! Hoping the weekend is getting off to a great start! I know mine is in that it’s a LONG weekend thanks to the U.S. Labor Day holiday…not gonna lie…the thoughts of NOT having to get up and go to work on Monday is a most excellent thought! 🙂 Anyway, onwards to the first film review of the day, another independent feature I recently read was coming to theaters and On Demand beginning yesterday, so seeing as none of my local cineplexes got it, went with my trusty back-up, On Demand! And therefore I bring to you….”Life of Crime”.
Directed by relative newcomer and writer Daniel Schechter (“Supporting Characters“, “Goodbye Baby“) and based on the Elmore Leonard novel “The Switch”, the film finds us in 1978 Detroit where two somewhat down and out con artists/criminals, Louis Gara (John Hawkes) and Ordell Robbie (Mos Def) decide to initiate their next caper…the kidnap and ransom of Mickey Dawson (Jennifer Aniston), the wife of a real estate tycoon Frank Dawson (Tim Robbins). In general, we discover several things…Louis and Ordell are not exactly masterminds, as we initially see during the first sequence of the film, but they somehow manage to come out on top, even if the means are somewhat silly or off kilter. Being introduced to Frank, there is NO questions he is a total sleezeball, MUCH more interested in hatching his own real estate schemes behind Mickey’s back while treating her like an object and proving that fidelity is NOT high on his priority list either, as a trip to the Bahamas and meeting with his mistress, Melanie (Isla Fisher) also illustrates. And this is not to also see that in the middle of it all is the Dawson’s son, Bo (Charlie Tahan) and a friend of the family with more than a passing interest in Mickey, Marshall Taylor (Will Forte). But, all things taken into account, Louis and Ordell put their plan into motion, and from there, things spin totally out of control, as elements are introduced to the whole situation that begin to cause the WHOLE plan to unravel. Not helping is another partner of Louis and Ordell, Richard Monk (Mark Boone Junior), a neo-Nazi with some other serious issues. As the caper continues to head south, alliances shift, feelings arise, plans are exposed, and by the end of it all….there IS a twist that, I will say, did make a fun impression. As short as this synopsis may seem, that is really all that CAN be said without getting more into specific plot details that venture into that forbidden world of spoilers. Since you already know my thoughts on THAT…..
SO…..I did NOT like this film. At ALL. Just going to get it out right there. It was ultimately one of those instances where you look at a cast like that, filled with SO many great character actors who have done SO much GOOD and SUPERB work between them, that you want to believe this WILL make a great movie, much less a solid “comedy/drama” that it was billed to be. I honestly sat there just dumbfounded, HOPING beyond it all that SOMEHOW it WOULD get better, funnier even, as it went along. Other than a FEW things that I chuckled at, MILDLY mind you, there was just NOTHING that struck me as even being TRULY comedic at all. Now I wasn’t expecting “Liar, Liar” level funny by any means, but STILL! And the general content of the film was a lot more ugly than I even expected from it, oppressively so in many instances for me. Dark “dramedy” MAYBE is how you would describe it…but I have seen WAY better films in THAT sense as well. Other than the ultimate twist in the story that KIND of made it “worth” sticking with, the overall execution of this could have been SO MUCH better. As hinted at above, this is an ensemble cast with SO much worthy material under their belts….Hawkes in films like “The Perfect Storm” and “Lincoln“. Mos Def in films like “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” and “The Italian Job“. Tim Robbins in “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Arlington Road” among a TON of others. Will Forte in “Nebraska“. Jennifer Aniston in “Bruce Almighty” or “The Bounty Hunter“. Isla Fisher in “The Great Gatsby” or “Now You See Me“. Mark Boone Junior in, yes a darker role, but SO much better utilized, in FX’s “Sons of Anarchy“. And even Charlie Tahan has been in “I Am Legend” and “Blue Jasmine“! I understand actors want to branch out and do other, smaller indie projects and, NORMALLY, I absolutely agree that can be a BETTER venue to see these people ACT. But sadly, this just misfired on so many levels. I found myself getting up and going to the kitchen while it was playing…it just wasn’t engaging in the least. I have loved the general gist of Elmore Leonard’s material in “Justified”, based on his Raylan Givens’ novels, but if this movie represented the efforts in the novel it’s based on, I would most certainly have to pass. Sounds harsh, and this IS one of the more scathing reviews I’ve written to date, and this is a DEFINITE proof that a great cast does NOT always a great movie make….and if I wasn’t being honest about how I saw it, what would be the point of having my normal tag line of…..
As always, this is all for YOUR consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!