Life of Crime

Life of Crime

(2013)

Right target. Wrong woman.

Reprising the characters played by Samuel L. Jackson and Robert De Niro in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, this prequel set 15 years earlier sees Mos Def and The Sessions' John Hawkes pair up to kidnap the wife (Jennifer Aniston) of a wealthy developer (Tim Robbins). Their ransom demands fall on deaf ears though when they discover she is unwanted by her unfaithful husband...... More

Ordell Robbie (Mos Def) and Louis Gara (Hawkes) hit it off in prison, where they were both doing time for grand theft auto. Now that they're out, they're joining forces for one big score. The plan is to kidnap the wife of a wealthy Detroit developer and hold her for ransom, but they didn't plan on the lowlife husband not wanting her back. So it's time for Plan B and the opportunity to make a real killing - with the help of a beautiful, ticked-off housewife who's hungry for a large helping of revenge.

Based on the 2002 novel The Switch by Elmore Leonard, who also penned Get Shorty, Out of Sight and, of course, Jackie Brown.Hide

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Flicks Review

You have to hand it to writer/director Daniel Schechter. Although a legitimate Elmore Leonard adaptation in its own right, Life of Crime feels more like a cheeky Quentin Tarantino prequel because its main characters, clueless crooks Ordell Robbie (Mos Def), Louis Gara (John Hawkes) and Melanie (Isla Fisher), all appeared in Jackie Brown. Which takes some serious chutzpah.... More

Unfortunately, the film can't match it. While it has all the hallmarks of classic Leonard – the 1970s setting, the insouciant bass-and-snare soundtrack, the irreverent dialogue – these familiar elements only remind us of the fun we're not having. It's no fault of the cast, but Samuel L Jackson and De Niro are tough acts to follow, and the sense that we're perpetually trading down is difficult to escape.

The plot concerns their “piss-poor” attempts to extort money from Tim Robbins (in full Anchorman mode) for the kidnap of his wife, Mickey (Jennifer Aniston). But charming performers do not always make charming performances, especially when they've so little to work with.

No one's really going to kill Jen, are they? Indeed, these clowns seem barely capable of executing a card trick. And with the stakes so low, the only hint of danger comes from a completely gratuitous sexual assault which is basically laughed off a few scenes later.

Playing more like a TV spin-off – broader, cheaper, cleaner – than a film in its own right, Life of Crime lacks the verve of even second-tier Tarantino. Perhaps Schechter should have started with a prequel to Death Proof and worked his way up from there.Hide


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The Press Reviews

66% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • It gleams with a faintly-tacky, country club sheen, as if it'd been sheep-dipped in essence of 70s and come out feeling peachy. Full Review

  • Missing the punchy plotting of the Coens thriller it resembles, the early chuckles don't quite translate into a satisfying whole. Full Review

  • This one belongs to the women: As a gold-digging mistress, Isla Fisher does half-smart expertly, while Jennifer Aniston demonstrates her underrated timing as a wealthy kidnapping victim turned confidante. Full Review

  • A solid, middle-of-the-road Leonard adaptation that lacks the singularity to be something more. Full Review

  • Aniston brings poignancy to her role as a kidnapped wife whose husband (Tim Robbins) isn’t too fussed about her freedom. Full Review

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