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Life of Crime

2015-07-10 08:18

What it's about:

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 $1m dollar ransom for her safe return.

What we thought:

Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard (3:10 to Yuma, Be Cool), Life of Crime is a little gem that won’t garner much attention and although not an outstanding masterpiece, it has enough wit and charm to leave the audience pleasantly entertained. Although the plot sounds like a rip-off of Bette Midler and Danny DeVito’s 80s comedy Ruthless People, it is a far cry from slapstick comedy. Instead, it incorporates a subtle humour through intelligent dialogue and a kind of 70s class that makes you feel like putting on some Pink Floyd.

Far from being bumbling criminals, Ordell (Mos Def) and Louis (John Hawkes) craft a plan to kidnap a corrupt developer's trophy wife (Jennifer Aniston) for ransom, only to discover he has filed for divorce and is reluctant to pay out the money, egged on by his mistress (Isla Fisher).

It sounds like a comedic adventure of spoofs and mishaps, but set in the 70s with a critical look at marriage and finding oneself after being defined by your husband for so long, it actually is more serious than it pretends to be. The cool and collected kidnappers, barring their Nazi-obsessed henchman who deserves a cigarette to the eye, are an interesting duo, taking the mishaps with style of an otherwise perfect plan, derailed by the manipulations of the mistress. Ordell is of course more ruthless than Louis, but that kind of calm ruthlessness is much more appealing on-screen than physical violence. Nothing too outlandish happens and although predictable despite the end, it had some great comedic moments and an interesting performance from Aniston and Hawkes, although a big case of Stockholm syndrome seems to be a cliché in most kidnap movies.

Aniston seems to be hitting her stride since her applauded performance in Cake, and Life of Crime can be filed under good role choice. Fisher was also great as a mistress who not only has beauty but also brains as she cons everyone, yet seems to have some genuine affection for her married lover. The Nazi however was too much, which could have served well for comedic affect as a small side character but giving him more supporting character gravitas was very out-of-place in the film’s low-key humour, and it supported a shoot-out scene with a detective that seemed like he was supposed to be a bigger character in the plot, but just vanished after his one scene.

Life of Crime is a good chuckle of a film to watch if it comes up on the telly, or if you have watched all the big blockbusters at the cinema; it is a relaxed comedy filled with charming criminals, manipulative mistresses and a lot of swastikas.


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remake of Ruthless People...

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