Small Town Crime (2018) - Rotten Tomatoes

Small Town Crime2018

Small Town Crime (2018)



Critic Consensus: Small Town Crime makes for a satisfying modern noir outing, largely thanks to the all-around impressive efforts of a solidly stocked cast led by John Hawkes.

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Movie Info

Ex-cop Mike Kendall (John Hawkes) discovers the body of a young woman and, in an act of self- redemption, becomes hell bent on finding the killer. While his un-couth and quirky detective style helps break open the case, his dogged determination unwittingly puts his sister (Octavia Spencer) and best friend (Anthony Anderson) in danger. Additional cast members include Robert Forster, Clifton Collins, Jr., Michael Vartan, James Lafferty, Daniel Sunjata, Caity Lotz, Jeremy Ratchford, Don Harvey, Stefanie Scott and Dale Dickey.

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John Hawkes
as Mike Kendall
Octavia Spencer
as Kelly Banks
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Critic Reviews for Small Town Crime

All Critics (38) | Top Critics (11)

The movie was written and directed by brothers Ian and Eshom Nelms, who must have thumbed through a few Elmore Leonard paperbacks in their day; their movie offers a similar mix of cagey plotting, easygoing character comedy, and punchy violence.

March 10, 2020 | Full Review…

The movie's tone never quite gels; it's too outlandish and cartoony to convince, but not so outlandish and cartoony that it takes off into a realm of over-the-top exhilaration.

January 20, 2018 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

There are enough nice touches and details along the way - including Clifton Collins Jr. as an old school R&B-loving pimp - to make up for its shortcomings.

January 19, 2018 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Engagingly anchored by character actor John Hawkes, "Small Town Crime" is a satisfyingly quirky serving of frisky pulp fiction.

January 18, 2018

This is well-made entertainment, pure and simple, with enough surprises along the way to avoid being strictly formulaic. What's more, it accomplishes all this in just under an hour and a half.

January 18, 2018 | Full Review…

Small Town Crime is so engrossing in its optimistic darkness that it screams for the further pulpy adventures of Mike Kendall.

January 18, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Small Town Crime

Great film and another strong performance by John Hawkes, the indie god. The film is packed with modern noir and it is a grim film populated with a humerous tone, not an easy sell but the filmmakers don't fail for a second. The cast is well rounded and full of surprises, I honestly can't recall when I have seen most of them. Hawkes is the key here and without him the film could have struggled. The film may have struggled to find an audience but if you can find it on Netflix support all these films that struggle to find a release window. Great film and there should be more of them. 18/11/2018.

Brendan O'Connor
Brendan O'Connor

Super Reviewer


I've never been a big alcohol consumer. In fact, if I were to play a Scarface drinking game where I had to take a shot every time someone cursed, I'd probably be dead within 30 minutes (or maybe even less). It's not that I'm against drinking, if you wanna go ahead and do it then just, hopefully, do it responsibly. Don't get into a fucking car and put your own life and, more importantly, the lives of innocent people at risk. That's always something I've believed and it may be insensitive, but I don't give a shit. If you wanna drink, drive and wrap your car around a light post, then you go ahead and do that. Hopefully you come out unscathed from that situation, but don't put innocent people in danger due to your reckless behavior. Either way, I suppose that's neither here nor there. As far as alcoholism goes, it has been a tried and tested narrative device used in films such as this. Some might say that it is often used as Oscar-bait. These are films that are designed to either earn Oscar nominations or, in some cases, even wins. Imagine a tortured, alcoholic writer trying to find redemption through a new way to express his art...or something. That's Oscar-bait. Hell, Nicolas Cage won an Oscar for playing a suicidal alcoholic, who uses alcohol to numb his physical pain and emotional scars, while befriending a prostitute in Las Vegas. If that's not Oscar-bait, then I don't know what is. Having said all of that, I don't think you could call this film Oscar-bait at all. I mean, maybe the distributors were hopeful of some noms, but I don't feel that the film was intended for that. I think it was just intended to be a hard-boiled, neo-noir thriller. Did it succeed at that? I mean, what are you, blind? Can't you see the score, you motherfucker? Seriously though, let's move on shall we. So I think it should be stated that I definitely really enjoyed this movie. If you wanna stop reading the review right now, then I wouldn't blame you, because I don't where I'm going with this, so I may be here awhile. It looks at this alcoholic ex-cop, Mike Kendall, who finds a woman left for dead on the side of the road and, as a result of his past, finds himself trying to solve the case, which ends up with two dead sex workers (including the one he found) and another one that's disappeared. Mike got thrown off the police force because, during a shootout with a perp that killed his partner, Mike shot into the trunk of the car, not knowing that the criminal had a woman tied up in there. Presumably she was still alive when this shootout between Mike and him happened. He was also, apparently, drunk during this so, obviously, he had to be thrown off the force. If he would have been sober, perhaps his shots wouldn't have been so erratic. Anyway, Mike's been dealing with the guilt ever since and drowning his sorrows in alcohol. Meanwhile his sister and her husband have been taking care of his mortgage payments. So, perhaps, as a result of his guilt over having caused this woman's death due to his drunkenness, he feels a sense of duty in finding out who murdered the girl on the side of the road and bring him (or her) to justice. So that's the basic outline of the narrative. Now we have to talk about how that narrative played out. I don't know, while I, overall, felt that this was a good movie, it's not like this really brings anything new to the table as far as thrillers and/or cop movies are concerned. Yes, I do like the smaller approach to the story, but, again, it's not like that hasn't been done before. The narrative plays out exactly like you would expect, with Mike pretending to be a private investigator to force his way into this case, having Kristy (the girl he found on the side of the road). When I say that it plays out like you'd expect, I mostly mean the investigation of what's going on, with Mike peeling layers of the mystery away a little at a time. I'm not gonna spoil what happens, but let's just say that this movie doesn't exactly travel through the most surprising of paths. There's no real twists. Mike's family is put in danger and he's forced to spring into action to protect them. And I guess the fact that there are no twists should be a positive and, in all honesty, it is. It's just that I've seen so many of these movies and, usually, there's some sort of twist, regardless of whether or not it makes sense. So it's a little strange seeing a movie where, really, there's nothing of the sort. I was almost the murderer (or the one who paid to murder these girls) to be the father of the Kristy (the first girl that was found). Just because. But, thankfully, that was not the case here. Yet, again, it bears repeating that there's really nothing new about the way this story was told. Don't get me wrong, the scripting is really strong and John Hawkes gives a, typically, excellent performance here. So, to me, that all adds to a very good movie, but it doesn't make for a great one, at least in my opinion. There was just something missing. I guess it was a more compelling mystery because, essentially, that's what all these movies boil down to. If the mystery doesn't go to some interesting places then, chances are, your movie isn't gonna be great. And I hate to sort harp on this point so much, but I feel that it's the truth. And I'm not saying that this film's mystery is uninteresting, but there's just parts of it that are unsatisfactory. Like, as an example, finding out who was behind the murders or, again, hiring the hitmen to commit the murders. I mean they do give you some reasoning, not that it's any justification of course, but it feels a little bit detached from the rest of the movie. It's like these people weren't really factors in the narrative and, again, finding out who they were wasn't exactly satisfying because I just didn't know who they were. I don't want to let that get in the way of how good this movie is, though, because it's really fucking good. A few flaws aren't gonna make me overlook everything else about this movie. John Hawkes is great, the rest of the cast is as well and the scripting is very strong, in spite of having some issues. I'd definitely recommend this movie. It's not gonna blow you, or anyone else, away, but it will provide some strong entertainment.

Jesse Ortega
Jesse Ortega

Super Reviewer

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