Life of Crime Review
"A Refreshing Take on the Comedy Heist"
In what is certainly one of the more creative kidnapping movies, Life of Crime
delivers intrigue, snappy dialogue and a loveable cast of comedically inclined actors.
Mickey Dawson (Jennifer Aniston) finds herself in the midst of a loveless relationship. Her alcoholic, real estate developer husband, Frank (Tim Robbins) and her “Stepford wife” existence begin to take their toll. Across town, two enterprising criminals have plotted, in their eyes, the perfect kidnapping. While Frank is out of town, they will grab Mickey and ransom her off for one million dollars. Although things deviate slightly from their plans, Ordell (Mos Def) and Louis (John Hawkes) maintain their composure and – politely – get Mickey to their chosen safe house. As they try to negotiate with Frank, things start to get complicated. Before taking his trip to the Bahamas, Frank filed for divorce, and is planning on marrying his mistress, Melanie (Isla Fisher). In a story filled with miscues and misdirection, Ordell and Louis try desperately to best Frank, and win the biggest payday of their lives.
Though Life of Crime
takes much of its tone from films like Burn After Reading
and American Hustle
, it hardly plays as over-used. Through quick-witted comedic lines, and the surprising adeptness of the criminals, Life of Crime
offers a refreshing take on the comedy heist. While there are numerous chances for the criminal venture to go horribly wrong, miscommunication usually prevails and the plot is inched forward. Hardly as predictable as one may think, Daniel Schecter's adaptation of Elmore Leonard's (Jackie Brown
, 3:10 to Yuma
) novel cleverly diverts from any preconceptions. While some of the jokes fall flat, and others seem hackneyed, the competent cast is able to keep the plot rolling and the audience interested.
The film's 98 minute run time starts slowly, but the minute the kidnapping takes place, it flies past and continues right up to the credits. Constantly exceeding your expectations on how much these two men could possibly get away with, they confidently stroll through the stages of their crime, almost effortlessly. In a movie where nothing is as it seems, hardly anything is kept from the audience, and there is no “grand mystery” to solve. The film gets your attention with its charismatic cast, and keeps it through sheer ability to entertain.
The high-note of this film is the wonderful chemistry between Mos Def and John Hawkes. An unconventional pair, the two men play off of each other's likeability and have a wonderful rapport. When the two team up with a Nazi sympathizing Richard (Mark Boone Junior), the trio becomes a hilarious representation of the “Three men walk into a bar” joke. It is refreshing to see Jennifer Aniston in a comedic role that does not require the buffoonery of some of her previous projects (Horrible Bosses
and We're the Millers
come to mind). For such a beloved actor, Tim Robbins does a wonderful job at playing the scumbag husband, and really garners some disdain from his audience. The well-rounded cast includes the perpetually funny Will Forte and Isla Fisher who do well in their tertiary roles.
While it certainly will not win any awards, Life of Crime
is a respectably entertaining crime “thriller.” Good for plenty of laughs and intrigue, Life of Crime
is a very good intermediary between summer blockbuster trash, and the coming Academy Awards season.