Small Town Crime Review

Small Town Crime is a 2018 thriller about an alcoholic ex-cop who finds the body of a young woman and, through an act of self-redemption, becomes hell-bent on finding the killer.

For a long time now John Hawks has been quietly becoming one of my favorite actors, a stoic, sinewy figure with a haunting gaze and genuine presence. Since his days on Deadwood, he’s steadily found supporting roles that have made good use of his talents, though I’ve always wondered why he’s not made the leap to superstardom. Here is he again, featured in a part that seems tailor made, a character of immense burden and sallow ache in a film that gives him plenty of room to breath. This is one heckuva performance.

Mike Kendall (Hawks) is a man in a spiral, an aggressive alcoholic who loses his job as a cop when his partner is gunned down in a pull over while he is drunk. Not long after, he stumbles upon a girl left on the side of the road, her body beaten. He gets her to the hospital but it’s all too late and she passes away. Maybe it’s his nature, maybe he just can’t leave things well enough alone, but he takes to looking into her death, pretending to be a private investigator, weaseling his way into the girl’s family and fooling her rich grandfather (Robert Forster) into paying expenses, though soon gets close to the truth, something that eventually puts his sister Kelly (Octavia Spencer) in danger.

Written and directed by Eshom and Ian Nelms, Small Town Crime is sewn from well-used thread, reminiscent of a string of gritty local things-gone-bad-to-worse movies and while it looks familiar and is well made, is never not compelling, mostly because it’s impossible to take your eyes off Hawks. Mixing smart dialogue and jarring violence, the Nelms unleash a truly captivating character in Kendall and allow Hawks to take him to some very interesting corners. He drives a matte black Chevy Nova, parked in a driveway with a busted down fence, one that been that way for a long time and says everything we need to know without a single word about it.

Kendall comes from a solid background, adopted as a boy into a black family, though has never quite gotten his life on track since. Kelly and her husband Teddy (Anthony Anderson) do their best to keep him safe, but Kendall is a man tethered to no one and nothing. And so it is curious that he is obsessed with finding the killer of a girl he never knew, however we are with him from the start. What motivates him is a darkness within we only gets hints of as he barrels his way to the man at the end of the line.

There’s good work here from others, including an oily turn from the always good Clifton Collins Jr. who is clearly having fun as a menacing browbeater, and Spencer, though underused, plays obligatorily but effectively concerned. However, this is all Hawks, who is absolutely at his best, proving once again he is one of the strongest actors working today. Watch what he does with his wiry frame and the lilt in his eyes. This is a supremely realized character.

Small Town Crime is itself a small film though plays above the description with good direction and has the makings to bust its way to much bigger more deserved attention. A slow burner with menace oozing from every frame, this is an intelligent, darkly foreboding experience. Highly recommended.

Small Town Crime Review

Movie description: SMALL TOWN CRIME IS A 2018 THRILLER ABOUT AN ALCOHOLIC EX-COP WHO FINDS THE BODY OF A YOUNG WOMAN AND, THROUGH AN ACT OF SELF-REDEMPTION, BECOMES HELL-BENT ON FINDING THE KILLER.

Director(s): Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms

Actor(s): ohn Hawkes, Octavia Spencer, Robert Forster

Genre: Crime, Thriller

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