Starring: Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes, Mos Def, Tim Robbins, Isla Fisher, Will Forte, Mark Boone Junior
Directed by: Daniel Schechter
Synopsis: Two common criminals get more than they bargained for after kidnapping the wife of a corrupt real-estate developer who shows no interest in paying the $1 million dollar ransom for her safe return.
Life of Crime shares some similarities with Ridley Scott’s The Counselor, namely it’s written by one of America’s greatest writers, it had a great cast and, well, it’s not particularly good. That’s a little unfair because when I say it’s not very good, it’s no where near as bad as The Counselor. It’s just pretty average.
It’s probably marketed as a dark comedy but unfortunately it’s neither dark not comic. It’s based on a story by the great Elmore Leonard, and you can tell. It’s variously based between Detroit and Miami, much like Leonard’s Out of Sight. In fact, this isn’t too dissimilar to the last act of that movie, but no where near as good.
It shows promise, in the seventies setting, the actors cast and the vintage soundtrack but all of those parts don’t seem to add up to much. Maybe the studio got involved, maybe the editing process went awry, who knows, but it soon descended into a bit of an up eventful mess.
Hawkes, Def and Boone Junior play some con men who decide to kidnap Mickey, played by Jennifer Aniston, the wife of rich business man Frank Dawson (Robbins). Unfortunately for them husband and wife don’t really get along so their request for a million dollars ransom falls on deaf ears, largely thanks to Franks scheming mistress Melanie (Fisher).
Now, that description sounds as though there could be fertile ground for shenanigans to ensue, like all the best crime capers, but they just don’t really arrive. All we get is a whole bunch of under developed characters who don’t really progress the story to any real satisfactory conclusion.
Life of Crime is seemingly another case of an Elmore Leonard adaptation failing to adapt well to the screen. Outside of Jackie Brown, Out of Sight and maybe Get Shorty, Leonard has been done a disservice by cinema which is a real shame.
I wanted to like life of crime but it just felt like a really poor identical twin to Out of Sight (for Clooney see Hawkes, Lopez see Aniston, Cheadle see Def etc). So, all in all, a wasted opportunity.