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August 8, 2015
Life of Crime Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
25/9/20147/1/2015MadmanDaniel Schechter
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD MA 5.1MA15+Jennifer Aniston

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Life of Crime is out now on Blu-Ray and DVD.

While many would see a cast including Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins and Isla Fisher as the major drawcard to see Life of Crime for us, it was the fact that this film was an adaptation of a book called The Switch from the late author Elmore Leonard. If the name doesn't ring a bell, well his other films will - Get Shorty, Be Cool, Out of Sight and Jackie Brown (which was originally the book Rum Punch). There's no doubt that he is a master storyteller so we were quite keen to check out Life of Crime.

Margaret "Mickey" Dawson (Jennifer Aniston) is a loving, slightly naive, housewife whose husband, Frank (Tim Robbins), has been embezzling millions for years and keeping the cash in off-shore accounts without her knowledge. Two career criminals, Louis (John Hawkes) and Ordell (Yasiin Bey), catch wind of his scam and figure if they hold Mickey for ransom, Frank would have no choice but to pay up big. What they don’t plan on is that Frank is head over heels for his sex-kitten mistress, Melanie (Isla Fisher), and doesn’t want his wife back...

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Isla Fisher is superb as Melanie.
It's fair to say the actual premise of this film has plenty of potential for an engaging story and some great dark comedy, and we get that, but just not to the levels one would hope for. There are comedic moments that hit some notes, and some decent setups in the film, but they never really pay off with laugh out loud moments or jaw-dropping action sequences or heist moments. Even the dialogue fails to resonate on many levels. There's some decent lines in the film, and delivered well, but never really sparks. Life of Crime certainly isn't a Tarantino level picture like Jackie Brown nor as polished as Barry Sonnenfeld's Get Shorty.

We mentioned earlier the strong cast which includes Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), Isla Fisher, Will Forte, Mark Boone Junior and John Hawkes but they don't just stand around with each putting in fine performances across the board. In fact, these are some of the best performances we've seen for some time, but it's just a shame the material isn't stronger.

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Jennifer Aniston in a serious role as Mickey in Life of Crime.
Life of Crime certainly isn't what one would consider a great film, as it's a little dry and lacking "entertainment" value. It certainly isn't up there with Elmore Leonard's best such as Get Shorty, however the film does have a strong cast with superb acting all around which makes this worth a rental if you're a fan of the actors.

Life of Crime is presented on Blu-Ray in the film’s original 2.40:1 aspect ratio and has been encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec as is standard these days. We certainly had a concern about the transfer early on. At the 2:00 mark while two men are at the urinal there is a halo effect around the face near the window. Fortunately issues like that were very infrequent and the film looks pretty decent with a bitrate often around 35Mbps according to our PS3.

Set in Detroit in 1978 the film has an intentionally non-vibrant tone to it which takes away that visual flare, but often sees the image look at little flat but more in keeping with the time period. Still, there is plenty of fine detail throughout and when the film does have a moment to shine - primarily when it moves from artificially lit interiors to exteriors such as the tennis club or beach - the few beach scenes come to mind -

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Tim Robbins is superb in Life of Crime
The only audio track on this release is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz) track that can really only be described as functional. As a dialogue driven film the audio is very front heavy with limited use of surround sound channels while the LFE channel rarely gets a workout. That's not saying it's a bad release though as the dialogue is generally pretty clear with our biggest issue being that the sound mix is extremely quiet so we had to pump up the amplifier well beyond where it is normally set to hear much of the dialogue.

Sadly there are no other audio tracks on this release which would be too bad except there aren't any subtitle tracks either - and that includes English so if you have a need to subtitles you're out of luck here.

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The gorgeous Isla Fisher getting a suntan.
Sadly the Blu-Ray release is fairly light in the bonus content so there's not much value here. Sadly we miss out on extras such as an audio commentary, deleted scenes and some extra featurettes which are included on the American release. Anyway here's what's on the Australian Blu-Ray.

Making of Life of Crime (10:03/HD): This brief featurette sees cast and crew talking about how great the story is, praising performances from the various actors and generally detailing the story so don't watch this before you watch the film as there are plenty of scenes from the film interspersed in this featurette.

Theatrical Trailer (1:49/HD): This trailer for the film actually does a pretty good job in selling the film.

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Kidnapping Mickey for ransom.
Madman Propaganda (9:48/HD): Beside the annoying copyright ad (0:35) there are trailers for What We Do In The Shadows (2:28), The Trip To Italy (2:25), Bernie (2:10), and Enemy (2:10).

Despite a strong cast and somewhat potentially entertaining premise, Life of Crime fails to fire and is, ultimately, largely forgettable. Unless you're a big fan of one of the actors in this film it's probably a film to skip or rent at most.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Madman. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.