Small Town Crime
Written and Directed by: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms
Starring: John Hawkes, Octavia Spencer, Clifton Collins Jr., Anthony Anderson, Michael Vartan, Caity Lotz, Dale Dickey, Daniel Sunjata, Don Harvey, Jeremy Ratchford, James Lafferty, Stefanie Scott and Robert Forster
Run Time: 1h 31min
3 Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
The opening scene of Eshom and Ian Nelms’ film, Small Town Crime, tells you all you need to know about Mike, (Hawkes) the protagonist of the film, and a damned engrossing protagonist might I add… however crude, crass and carnal he may appear. He’s an ex-cop who doesn’t take shit from anyone; just ask him. He tells everyone this about himself, especially people who want to hire him so… that they don’t hire him! A drunk, when we meet him he’s vomiting during his daily workout. Preferring to spend most of his time inebriated he’d rather drive his muscle car to cash his unemployment check than have to actually work for his money. Always with a beer in his hand, he has gotten sidetracked in life when his partner on the force is murdered during a traffic stop. Mike, drunk at the time, is blamed for his death and is let go.
While out driving, drunk of course, he stops when he sees a very bloody young woman lying near the side of the road. She is beaten half to death but alive. He gets her into his car and races her off to the hospital, unfortunately, she doesn’t survive. With not much in life to keep him roused these days, he decides he’s going to kick his investigation tactics back into high gear. He will avenge her death no matter what it takes. What he finds is that his local watering hole, one he frequents and where he knows everyone by name (from being kicked out all too often), is more than it appears. Underage prostitutes swarm the joint and it seems they have gotten themselves into trouble with people who aren’t looking for the girls for sex but rather are out to get them for what they know.
Mike tracks down the girl’s family and speaks to her grandfather (Forster). He’s a tough, well-to-do, older man who has nothing to lose, especially now that he lost his granddaughter. He’ll do everything to even the score and hires Mike to help track down her killers. He’ll even haul around his own weapon if needed! Clifton Collins Jr., who originally comes off as a miscreant about to give Mike a lot of trouble, ends up helping to try and solve the mystery they’ve all stumbled into. Hunches, expertise and cunning get them where they need to be for the answers to all of their questions but a growing body count will have you wondering if the need to solve one murder, sans the local detectives, played by Daniel Sunjata and an aged Michael Vartan, outweighs the need to keep the many alive.
Sure, a crime has been committed and needs to be solved but how many must die to solve the said crime before you get help? The answer to that question is answered in this gritty thriller that I recommend you see. I like, and believe you will, too, that things don’t go exactly right for anyone, that Mike is a walking catastrophe and that the viciousness of the picture is brutal. It gives you that much more reason to stay until the end to see if Mike gets his man or if he gets his adopted family of Octavia Spencer, Anthony Anderson and their children, all killed! Did I mention this cast is absolutely stupendous?? By the way, stay for one extra clip after the credits start to roll. Enjoy!