Life of Crime Doesn’t Transcend Its Haphazard Story

August 29, 2014 7:16 PM

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Life of Crime Doesn’t Transcend Its Haphazard Story

With a couple of major (major) exceptions, film adaptations of Elmore Leonard novels rarely succeed. The breezy menace of his stories, the carefree, sneaky suspense of his plotting, the dim-bulb charm of his characters … it’s all booby-trapped for film. Go in one direction and it’s too bubbly, go in another and it’s all too generic, shorn of what made it special in the first place. If Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown and Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight work so well, it’s partly because those filmmakers themselves share the perverse, wildly varying tonal impulses at play in Leonard’s work. Their movies are like beautiful toy guns that somehow manage to go off.

Writer-director Daniel Schechter is no Tarantino, and Life of Crime (adapted from Leonard’s The Switch) no Jackie Brown. But the film does manage to capture something special from Leonard’s work. A casual, breezy-cool comedy about a couple of small-time hoods who kidnap the wife of a rich businessma...

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