Monday, May 1, 2017

Small Crimes Netflix Movie Review

Small Crimes (2017)
Watch Small Crimes on Netflix
Written by: Macon Blair (co-writer), E.L. Katz, David, Zeltserman (based on a novel by)
Directed by: E.L. Katz
Starring:  Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Molly Parker, Robert Forster, Gary Cole, Macon Blair
Rating: TV-MA

After serving time for the attempted murder of a District Attorney, disgraced former cop Joe Denton (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is caught between a crooked cop, a vengeful DA, and a mafia kingpin who knows too much.

Coster-Waldau does a great job taking narcissist Joe Denton to full term. This movie is always unpredictable. It's a downhill ride in a rickety wagon that could smash to pieces at any second. While it has a few interesting characters, Joe's mom and Junior in particular, it doesn't do enough with them. The transitions to move the plot forward are painfully transparent and stretch credibility. As an indie film it isn't bad.
It depends.

The first scene introduces us to Joe. He's six years sober and just out of jail. Joe is staying with his parents, lost his family during his imprisonment, and is called the slash cop. In the next few scenes he gives up his sobriety, violates the terms of his divorce, and gets attacked.

I wondered why the girl from the bar was into him. It seemed rather odd and this is a guy that's supposed to be pretty street smart. The scene is just a way to get Denton to the police station and introduce the District Attorney Phil. Phil's face is badly scarred. We surmise Joe had something to do with it, and you'll later find out the details.

Joe's plight through the movie is the safest path that harms as few people as possible. Joe's former partner Pleasant (Gary Cole) demands an end the grand jury investigation that could lead to his incrimination. He and Joe were both dirty cops. Joe has to either off an aging mobster or DA Phil.
Joe's mom might be the best character who cuts right through Joe's manipulations and lies, telling him to get a job and stop bragging about being sober in jail. That's not impressive.

This movie is full of twists, keeping you on your toes. Joe seems determined to make mistakes, but that's more hubris than anything else. The biggest issues are the scenes obviously present just to move the plot along. Joe's girlfriend brings the movie to the conclusion, but I never bought her motivation. She wants Joe to have a second chance, but why? Why would she sacrifice for Joe?
I kept wondering how this movie was going to end. There are multiple instances that seem like 'the end,' but the movie keeps marching forward.  The pacing of the last quarter is spot on, even if the conclusion is a bit abrupt.

Grading this as a low budget indie film, it isn't bad. It has a few issues, but it's an entertaining ride. There are multiple 'I can't believe that happened' instances. It wavers between the black comedy and gritty action genre, but it doesn't excel at either.
It's from a similar mold of other Macon Blair projects, his writing and directorial debut I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore (2017) (my review), and supporting roles in the Jeremy Saulnier movies Green Room (2015) (my review) and Blue Ruin (2013) (my review), but Small Crimes doesn't match them.

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