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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Life of Crime movie review: minor misdemeanor

Life of Crime yellow light

Low-key black comedy and sporadic horror lazily pop up among the crime drama, but never enough of either to score many zings.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Detroit, 1978. A couple of pretty clever bad guys, Ordell (Yasiin Bey, aka Mos Def: Begin Again) and Louis (John Hawkes: Contagion), team up with Richard (Mark Boone Junior: Management) — who is so dumb it’s “adorable,” according to Ordell — to kidnap Mickey (Jennifer Aniston: We’re the Millers) and demand a million bucks in ransom from her rich asshole husband, Frank (Tim Robbins: Green Lantern). But though Ordell and Louis have unearthed all sorts of essential business and financial information about Frank, they’ve missed some key emotional stuff, and their plan begins to fall apart almost as soon as they put it into motion. The movie feels a bit like that, too: it’s got a potentially intriguing setup that doesn’t quite pay off in the end in the way that it should. I haven’t read the Elmore Leonard novel this based on, but I didn’t know beforehand it sprouted from his work, and I’d never have guessed it: low-key black comedy and sporadic horror lazily pop up among the crime drama, but never enough of either to score many zings. Still, the cast is fun to watch — Robbins and Will Forte (The Lego Movie), as a friend of the unhappy couple, are enjoyably hissworthy weasels — and there’s a sort of pleasant cheesiness in the evocation of the period.


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Life of Crime (2014)
US/Can release: Aug 29 2014 (VOD same day)
UK/Ire release: Sep 05 2014 (VOD same day)

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated NSRP (contains not so ruthless people)
MPAA: rated R for language, some sexual content and violence
BBFC: rated 15 (strong language, sex, violence)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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  • RogerBW

    The seventies are the new sixties, I guess. And the eighties, of course.

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