Life Of Crime (2013) – Review

Directed by Daniel Schechter
Written by Daniel Schechter from Elmore Leonard
Starring Jennifer Aniston, Mos Def, John Hawkes, Will Forte, Tim Robbins.
Just what do you do when you kidnap a man’s wife for a million dollars, only to find that he was about to divorce her anyway, and doesn’t want to pay the ransom?

Arriving in the UK on the 5th September without too much fanfare and even less hype, it would seem, is the latest offering from director Daniel Schechter (Supporting Characters, Goodbye Baby) who here adapts Elmore Leonard’s novel ‘The Switch’, a wannabe comedy crime caper set in the late seventies, starring Jennifer Aniston as Mickey, the trophy wife of millionaire Frank Dawson (Robbins), who gets kidnapped in the same week as Frank disappears to visit his mistress (Fisher) for a few days, just as the divorce papers he is sending to his wife are about to arrive in the mail at their home.
Sounds like the opportunity for a fair degree of farce and the chance to ape American Hustle, maybe, but Schechter’s attempts to inject some levity into Leonard’s story is either too tricky or complicated to achieve as the chances often go begging for a laugh here and there. Failing to register more than a couple of chortles on the five-laugh test, this really fails to make the grade in the comedy department and instead becomes nothing more than an uncomplicated and mostly derivative kidnap story that lacks much in the character development and suffers too much in terms of predictability.
Supported by a great collection of old hits in the form of a soundtrack, almost good enough to rival the Awesome Mix Tape in Guardians of the Galaxy, Schechter’s project does have style in sporadic bursts, but never manages to maintain this quality throughout, either in scripting or cinematography. The main performances are all well and good but let’s not forget what we’re dealing with, a comedy script with few jokes to speak of, and fewer still that actually hit the mark. 
The lead from Aniston is not taxing for an actor that has already proved she is much more able than what she is requested to provide here, and this is also true of the likes of Hawkes, Forte and Robbins. Isla Fisher is refreshing as Melanie, Frank’s sideline squeeze, and Mos Def’s Ordell also is very enjoyable to see, but like everyone here, we seem to be running with the clutch down and cruising to a conclusion which although not immediately obvious, provides few surprises by its arrival.

Altogether, a very forgettable, largely straight-faced, effort that will do little to reassure you that Aniston’s career is all well and good or that Schechter really deserves opportunities any more risky than this. If you go and see it next week upon release, don’t be surprised if you forget you’ve seen it by the time the DVD release turns up. If this was only half as cool as the trailer wants you to think it is, we’d be set. Just one problem. It isn’t.

Written for Flickering Myth


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