The 2017 film Small Town Crime comes to us from Lionsgate on Blu-ray and Digital HD. It stars John Hawkes (Three Billboards, Winters Bone), Anthony Anderson (The Departed, Transformers), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Help), Robert Forster (Twin Peaks, Jackie Brown) and Clifton Collins Jr (Traffic, Capote).
Small Town Crime comes along at a bit of a refreshing time for the modern resurgence of solid Hollywood neo-noirs. John Hawkes stars as Mike Kendall, an ex-cop whose history will slowly be revealed. Much like Max Payne he is seemingly handcuffed to the bottle and waking up in mysterious places after an all-night binge. It seems like every relationship he has is teetering on the brink of collapsing and his demons haunt him nightly. One morning, while finding himself blacked out in the middle of the desert, he drives up to a woman on a lone patch of road. She is in dire straights and even though he rushes her to the hospital things take a turn for the worse.
The tagline for the film is “Doing the right thing the wrong way”. I think this works both for the story and for the movie itself. There is a lot to like in the way it is written and directed. Brothers Eshom and Ian Nelms have a particular visual style that is sort of retro but not abundantly so where it is detrimental. The plot is fairly straightforward but I don’t think that is a negative, it’s just not particularly a positive depending on how many of these types of films you have seen before. It’s solid but not spectacular or surprising.
One of my biggest “gripes” about the film is that with this cast and the runtime at 91 minutes some things move a little too briskly and I wish we could have spent a little more time with the characters and their interactions. Octavia Spencer especially lights up the screen but her runtime is very paltry and it seems a shame such a great actress wasn’t used more fully.
The lead, while doing an interesting and perhaps realistic take on his character of Mike Kendall is a bit uneven. His character has quite unlikable characteristics so it’s hard to get behind him fully in his quest, but rather than filming it straightforward it’s almost done in a comedic and charming tone. Maybe they were specifically going for that, and I understand it’s a very minor complaint but it never really sat right with me and I was hoping for a little something else since John Hawkes was doing a damn fine job of acting. I think if the film had leaned a bit further to a more Coenesque bizarreness I would have been right with it.
Still, even with some minor and mostly personal complaints about the story I was very entertained and enjoyed my time with the film. It is smartly written and has enough action to keep viewers interested. While it probably won’t be among the top tier modern favorites if this is a genre you enjoy I think you will be satisfied with the offering and like it.
The Blu-ray release is in the original 2.39:1 aspect ratio, with English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The film includes English and Spanish subtitles. The picture and sound quality are exactly what you would expect from a modern moderately budgeted film to be like on Blu-ray.
- Director’s Commentary
- Actors, Producer and Director’s Commentary
- Technical Commentary
- Crime and Character – Almost 8 minutes of interviews with the cast and crew
- Devising a Small Town Crime – 7 minutes of material based on the creative process behind the scenes.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes – 10 minutes
Small Town Crime Final Thoughts:
Small Town Crime doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but maybe it doesn’t have to. It’s a solid modern crime film with a nice cast and technically skilled crew. It’s rare to get three commentaries plus behind the scenes footage on a normal film release. I recommend it for fans of the genre or the main actors involved. You can purchase a copy from Amazon or other fine retailers.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgment or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.