If Life of Crime, the action comedy from director Daniel Schechter, seems oddly familiar that’s likely because it uses the Elmore Leonard crime book-to-movie formula that has been a staple since the 1985 Burt Reynolds’ movie Stick. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, you just know what you’re getting when you watch a movie based off one of Leonard’s crime novels: The criminal is usually the good guy; the guy(s) getting conned (or robbed) is always a jackass who ultimately deserves it and there is always an attractive woman caught between the two who usually falls for the criminal.
Life of Crime is based on Leonard’s novel The Switch and follows two buddies who kidnap the wife of a sleazy real estate mogul (Jennifer Anniston is fantastic as the wife and Tim Robbins is equally solid as her jerky husband). Rather than pay up, however, Robbins’ character sees this as an opportunity to get rid of his wife to be with his mistress.
The material, also adapted by Schechter, is not toriginal to anyone who has read or seen Get Shorty, Out of Sight or just about anything else in the Leonard cannon. What saves the move though is the casting and acting. Along with Anniston and Robbins, Will Forte is brilliant as the geeky suitor trying to seduce Anniston’s character and Mos Def and John Hawkes are perfect as the kidnappers. A so-so movie saved by a stellar cast.
Life of Crime/DVD/101 mins./Lionsgate/2014