Small Town Crime review: John Hawkes leads the cast of this crime movie, a film that follows the pursuit of a woman’s killer by an alcoholic cop.

Small Town Crime review by Awais Irfan.

Small Town Crime review
Small Town Crime review

Continuing our LFF coverage here on the site, we are reviewing Small Town Crime from the pairing of the Nelms Brothers – Eshom Nelms, and Ian Nelms.

The premise follows Mike Kendall (John Hawkes), an alcoholic ex-cop that can’t last five minutes without a drink – with this problem of his being the reason he’s no longer in the forces. Living off of his sister (Octavia Spencer) and her husband (Anthony Anderson), merely scraping by and desperate to return to the action, he finds himself in luck when he accidentally stumbles across the dead body of a young girl one morning. Using this as a shot at redemption, Kendall becomes hell-bent on finding the killer and begins playing detective, returning to his days as a cop. However, in doing so, he puts everyone he knows and loves in serious danger.

Small Town Crime boasts nothing new in terms of ideas and premise. We’ve seen this story done to death countless times before and, sadly, despite a promising start, this film does nothing in the way of innovating the material whatsoever and is very conventional and formulaic in its storytelling approach. This is a paint-by-numbers crime thriller and it just feels tired and bland. The character of Kendall seemed interesting at first, but when the film puts him front and centre for the duration of the runtime, it becomes apparent that there isn’t much to scratch past surface level with this character. He’s an alcoholic and he is itching to see the action of the police force again. That’s really all there is to his character and it makes it difficult to really invest in him when there’s not a whole lot there.

The first act of the film starts strong and we head in a promising direction, first introduced to Kendall as a man who just wants to do good but never can and as the central murder is established. But once we really dive into it, the screenplay becomes too convoluted for its own good. It tries to be smart in handling the mystery revolving this girl’s death but it just feels rather convoluted and all over the place instead – there isn’t much flow to the narrative, and the various ‘revelations’ the story makes throughout. It’s messy and mawkish. The film tries to be so much more than it actually is and fails to see that its own shortcomings are due to this. Rather than being a sharp, simple thriller than subverts the genre – as it perhaps wanted to be – it becomes a tired and lackluster genre piece but one that has no clear focus and feels too convoluted and frustrating for its own good as a result.

Small Town Crime review by Awais Irfan, October 2017.

Small Town Crime is released in the UK on a date TBC.

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Small Town Crime