Movie Review: ‘Life of Crime’

jennifer-aniston-300Directed by: Daniel Schechter

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes, and Yasiin Bey

Plot: Two criminals kidnap a woman of a wealthy man uninterested in paying her ransom


Based on the novel The Switch by Elmore Leonard, it follows some would-be criminal masterminds that the movie going public has already been made familiar of. John Hawkes and Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) play Louis Gara and Ordell Robbie respectively. These are the same characters played by Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, based on Leonard’s Rum Punch. The two movies are not really related, they are simply adapted from similar source material, but you can’t help but look at this as a prequel of sorts.

In that respect, John Hawkes does much more with Gara than Robert De Niro does. De Niro was always really disappointing in Jackie Brown since he seemed to only be there to play stupid. He was simply an ear for Ordell Robbie to chew off. Life of Crime on the other hand is Gara’s movie. He is an “honorable crook” so to speak. He simply wants his cut with the least amount of blood spilled as possible. Hawkes makes him incredibly charismatic and likable in a sort of dopey way. Bey on the other hand struggles to capture the screen presence of Samuel L. Jackson. Robbie, in Bey’s hands, blends more into the background able to deliver some dry wit when things are getting a little too boring. Ultimately, Hawkes and Bey have great chemistry and with a more interesting story they would have been a great pairing. 

Tonally, the misadventures of the characters played by Will Forte, Isla Fisher, and Tim Robbins contrast too heavily with that of Hawkes and Bey. The B-plots are much more goofier. The tone is just slightly more whimsical and the jokes relying slightly more on slapstick and over-the-top delivery. They seem like parts that belong to a different movie, because even though the A-plot was capable of comedy, it still tried to be an interesting and dark crime thriller.


Jennifer Aniston was a bit of a bright spot here. It was a nice surprise to see her get a chance to actually act. She has to keep up with the other funny characters but also deliver on the real fear of being kidnapped knowing there is a chance your husband won’t pay for a ransom. It was fear mixed with a defeated sadness, and I thought Aniston did an admirable job. 

Life of Crime is stuck together with gluesticks and staples before the narrative loses steam, so when it becomes clear that the husband won’t pay up, it is almost as if they start moving backwards. It could have been an interesting comedy of errors as the characters try to attempt to come up on top, but the hokey nature of the B-plots shoot that chance in the foot.

Rating: 4/10