Life of Crime is a adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 1978 novel The Switch, in which a couple of his trademark not-as-smart-as-they-think-they-are mooks decide to kidnap the wife of a crooked real-estate developer and ransom her back in exchange for said developer’s skimmed, tax-evading profits.
Writer-director Daniel Schechter (whose work you probably haven’t seen before) wisely resists the temptation to update the plot, giving us a prime wallow in late-’70s clothes, cars and music. Mos Def (of hip-hop fame) and John Hawkes (Eastbound and Down, Lincoln) play the aforementioned mooks; Jen Aniston is the put-upon wife, Tim Robbins plays yet another sleazy businessman, and Isla Fisher (Now You See Me) plays yet another conniving hot girl.
Everybody does fine. Schechter also was bright enough not to mess with the dialog, so the clued-up and the clueless characters all have Dutch Leonard’s words and attitudes. Hawkes has the hangdog charm of the typical Leonard not-so-wise-guy; Aniston plays vulnerable-but-not-helpless pretty well. No, it’s not Jackie Brown or Out of Sight, but it’s an amiable way to spend 98 minutes, and besides…it’s Elmore Leonard, so how bad can it be?