“Small Crimes” Feels Like A Big Movie Crammed Into A Short Script



Title: Small Crimes
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Posted May 5, 2017 by

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With everything Macon Blair has his hands in, I’m always curious how they’re going to turn such a simplistic script into a full-length feature film. Punk band takes on Nazis in “Green Room”, guy looks for revenge on the people who killed his family in “Blue Ruin”, and a young woman wants back her stolen property in “I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore”. Not to my surprise, at least anymore, it works every time. Despite the small scope of the story, the films always feel much bigger. With “Small Crimes”, however, it feels like Blair and co-writer/director E.L. Katz came to the table with a script chalk full of ideas and struggled to put it into a smaller package. It’s not that it’s not still a good and entertaining movie, it just feels like more could have been done with it as the film feels like it rushes through pretty heavy plot points.

Joe Denton (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is an ex cop who is just being released from a six year jail sentence after a botched attempted murder. Now that he’s served his time, he’s looking to put his past behind him but, unfortunately for him, his past is waiting for him right where he left it. The crime boss he was working for, Manny Vassey (Shawn Lawrence), has colon cancer and is about to reveal everything to the prosecutor Joe tried to kill, Phil Coakley (Michael Kinney). Joe’s partner in crime, Lt. Dan Pleasant (Gary Cole), wants him to clean this mess up as quickly as possible and, if he doesn’t, Joe’s family is at risk as well his own life and Dan’s to boot. Enter in Manny’s hospice worker that Joe falls in love with, Charlotte Boyd (Molly Parker), a brother of one of Joe’s victims, Scotty (Macon Blair), the strained relationship between Joe and his parents (Robert Forster and Jacki Weaver), and Manny’s son who kills anyone that crosses him, Junior (Pat Healy), and you have multiple storylines that collide into one another and all aim to be resolved by the last few minutes of the movie. 

Because the film is only an hour and a half, the details of Joe’s past are given to us throughout the conversations he has with the other characters. His motives are driven by not wanting to die, but other than that, there’s not much to relate to with him; leaving Joe as an unsympathetic protagonist and hoping the action in the film keeps viewers entertained. I will say this: Blair knows how to do action. Much like his previous films, “Small Crimes” does not shy away from violent shoot-outs, stabbings, and other bloodshed. The thing that worked with the films before this though is the action seemed to come out of nowhere; a complete tonal shift from the beginning of the film and the end. Where the violence in the other films was pleasantly shocking, “Small Crimes” tries to rely on it too much but it just causes everything to feel more convoluted in the end.

There’s a good movie in here, which makes “Small Crimes” entertaining despite having flaws, it just would have felt more complete if they would have stretched it out longer and really let the heaviness of the situations settle in. It is currently streaming on Netflix.



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