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Life of Crime (3 stars)

Jennifer Aniston impresses against type in this crime comedy based on Elmore Leonard's The Switch

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Life of Crime

A prequel of sorts to Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, in that it features three of the same characters (albeit played by different actors), Life of Crime is writer-director Daniel Schechter's low-key adaptation of Elmore Leonard's The Switch.

Set in 1970s Detroit, the film stars John Hawkes and Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) as Louis Gara and Ordell Robbie (the characters played by Robert De Niro and Samuel L Jackson in Jackie Brown), two small-time crooks who decide to kidnap country club socialite Mickey (Jennifer Aniston), the wife of shady businessman Frank Dawson (Tim Robbins). There's just one problem: Frank has shacked up with his younger, money hungry mistress Melanie (Isla Fisher, in Bridget Fonda's Jackie Brown role) and, unbeknownst to Mickey, he's just filed for divorce, so is in no hurry to pay the million dollar ransom and even figures he might save himself some alimony if things turn nasty.

Hawkes and Bey make an appealing double-act as the likeable crooks, while Robbins is on top sleazy form and Fisher gets more to do here than she has in any of her recent films. However, the stand-out is Aniston, clearly relishing the chance to play against expectations, delivering a performance that is both emotionally engaging and consistently surprising, and generating some intriguing chemistry with Hawkes.

Schechter keeps things moving at a decent pace and it features a snappy script (much of it Leonard's), immaculate production design and a sharp soundtrack. Yet there's no sense of escalating danger or tension, with some promising sub-plots (such as the involvement of Will Forte's smitten family friend) failing to catch fire. Life of Crime is strong on character and swagger, but hampered by a frustratingly slight plot and a general lack of suspense.

General release from Fri 5 Sep.

LIFE OF CRIME (2014) Official HD Trailer

Life of Crime

  • 3 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 94 min
  • Directed by: Daniel Schechter
  • Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Mos Def, John Hawkes
  • UK release: 5 September 2014

Louis (Hawkes) and Ordell (Bey, aka Mos Def) kidnap socialite Mickey (Aniston) from her shady husband Frank (Robbins). Unfortunately, Frank has filed for divorce and is in no hurry to pay. This sort-of prequel to Jackie Brown is snappy, with fine performances (Aniston is consistently surprising); pity about the slight…

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