Life of Crime
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDaniel Schechter
Written byDaniel Schechter
Based onThe Switch
by Elmore Leonard
Produced by
CinematographyEric Alan Edwards
Edited byDaniel Schechter
Music by
Distributed by
Release dates
  • September 15, 2013 (2013-09-15) (TIFF)
  • August 29, 2014 (2014-08-29) (United States)
Running time
99 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$12 million[3]
Box office$1.5 million[4]

Life of Crime is a 2013 American black comedy crime film written and directed by Daniel Schechter, based on Elmore Leonard's novel The Switch (1978), which includes characters later revisited in his novel Rum Punch (1992), which was adapted into the Quentin Tarantino film Jackie Brown (1997). Life of Crime was screened on the closing night 2013 Toronto International Film Festival,[5] on the opening day of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival,[6] at the 2014 Traverse City Film Festival[7] and released in theaters on August 29, 2014 by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.


The movie opens with a scene where Louis is robbed of 27 dollars by a big bully. His friend Ordell helps him get more than his money back, by running over the mugger with his car. But the two of them have bigger plans that will make them super rich. They will set an extortion on Frank Dawson, a real estate man, by kidnapping his wife Mickey, and then asking for a $1 million ransom. From a friend they have compromising info on Frank's secret bank account in the Bahamas and his shady real estate affairs there. Mickey takes her son, Bo, to play tennis at the country club. Louis is also there just to take a look at her, but actually happens to talk to her briefly when they meet in a corridor. A man named Marshall Taylor, a married man who does some work for Frank, is trying to have an affair with Mickey, but she is not interested.

When Ordell and Louis find out that both Frank and the son are going to be away for a week, they decide it's time to proceed with kidnapping. They arrive at the house, masked, and take Mickey by surprise in the kitchen. She drops a glass and cuts her foot. Other than that all goes according to plan, until the suitor, Marshall, arrives at the house, creating chaos for Ordell and Louis. They hit him in the head and lock him up in a closet, then finally take off with their shocked kidnapping subject. Mickey is locked up in a bedroom at Richard's, who is a Nazi admirer, and she has to wear a blindfold so she can't see the kidnapper's faces when they give her food or she has to go to the bathroom. Louis bandages her foot caring and professionally.

Meanwhile Frank and Melanie, his other woman, enjoy themselves in his Bahamas apartment. Ordell calls Frank, lets him hear the voice of his wife, and tells him about the kidnapping and the $1 million demand. Frank seems less upset than expected, which is because he was already planning to marry Melanie. In fact, he already sent Mickey divorce papers that arrived to an empty home. Anyway, he is perfectly fine with his wife being kidnapped and possibly killed, so he doesn't have to pay a ransom or any spousal support in the future. In Richard's house there is uncertainty and unrest. They send Richard to the Dawson's to check if Marshall made it out of the closet. Louis talks with Mickey about the ransom, about Frank's hidden money, the real estate development, and Melanie. It turns out Mickey gets to see Louis, and remembers him from the country club. After trying to call Frank but failing to reach him because Melanie picks up the phone, Ordell and Louis talk about what options they have. Mickey listens in on their conversation through vents and doors.

Meanwhile, we see Marshall go to the house to clean up after himself. He encounters Richard and thinks he is a police officer. They have an altercation that ends with Richard shooting after Marshall's car. Escalating the kidnapping, Ordell and his friend Cedric go to Freeport and find Melanie at the pool while Frank is away. Melanie lets Ordell in on the divorce update and serves him a proposition for how the kidnappers can at least get $100000, and even more if Mickey dies. Ordell hooks up with Melanie. Ordell makes a call to Richard's house about his new plans. Knowing Louis' different way in looking at Mickey, Ordell talks to Richard only, and orders him and Louis to bring Mickey back to her house, but tells Richard to go back in and kill her afterwards, without Louis knowing it.

While Louis is out to "borrow" a nice new car at a restaurant valet service, Richard tries to rape Mickey, but Louis gets there just in time to stop it. He takes Mickey and runs to the car, while Richard gets in trouble with the police. They drive towards Mickey's house, but she doesn't want to go home, so they go to Louis' place instead. The next day Mickey is back in her home. She reads the divorce papers and goes out to see some old work friends but gets tired of her old life. Back at her house again, Mickey confronts Frank who just arrived, about the ransom, the divorce, the $1 million, and Melanie. Frank denies all her accusations, saying that he knew the kidnappers were bluffing, and that they pulled out. Fed up with all the lies, Mickey goes back to see Louis. When they meet with Ordell, it turns out that he has Melanie with him. While Melanie is out for a few minutes, Mickey, Louis and Ordell come up with a new plan. All three now wear masks, and seem ready to kidnap Melanie to get ransom from Frank.



Dennis Quaid was originally cast as Frank Dawson, Mickey's husband.[8]

Principal photography lasted 26 days. The major portion of the film was shot in Greenwich, Connecticut.[9] Tod A. Maitland did the sound mixing.


Life of Crime received generally positive reviews from critics. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 68% of 81 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The website's consensus reads: "It may not stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best Elmore Leonard adaptations, but Life of Crime has enough ambling charm—and a sharp enough cast—to get by."[10] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 60 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average" reviews.[11]

Catherine Shoard of The Guardian praised Schecter for his "unexpectedly winning take" on Leonard's novel and the "top-notch" performances from the cast, highlighting Aniston for her "deft comic timing" and Hawkes for being "surprisingly convincing" in his role, concluding that: "This is a good-natured, show-not-tell treat, almost bloodless fun."[12] Glenn Kenny of called it "a pretty engaging, and [pretty] authentically Leonardesque, comedic crime movie" and praised the ensemble cast's performances, singling out Aniston's part for being "measured, engrossing, and empathy-generating" without any "sitcom-style" mannerisms, concluding that: "The amusing twists and turns of the script, the multiple instances of bracing humor and consistent tension, help the cast bring this small-scale thriller to the place it clearly wants to be. Well worth seeing, particularly for Leonard people."[13] Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times wrote that it pales in comparison to Jackie Brown and found Bey to be "droll" as Ordell Robbie, but called it a "late-summer caper movie" that settles into its groove and offers an "intriguing contrast of actors and a director taking a different approach to known material."[14]

Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post commended Hawkes and Bey for doing "an adequate job" portraying their characters but felt the story they inhabit was "noticeably sluggish and spiritless" compared to Tarantino's film, and lacked a sense of urgency in its overall setup.[15] Steve Macfarlane of Slant Magazine criticized Schecter for crafting his film with "obnoxiously self-aware period detail" and a "too-rich soundtrack" when compared to American Hustle and felt the performances had an "undeniably comparable dramatic weightlessness" to them, highlighting Aniston for being miscast in her role and giving "a long, bland starring performance in an Indiewood dramedy."[16] Entertainment Weekly's Chris Nashawaty gave the movie a "C−" grade, calling it one of the worst Leonard adaptations based on Schecter's "lifeless" filmmaking, and backhandedly complimenting its "kitschy" production for distracting viewers away from the rest of the film.[17]


  1. ^ McClintock, Pamela; Siegel, Tatiana (September 11, 2013). "Toronto: Elmore Leonard's 'Life of Crime' Selling to Lionsgate, Roadside". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on March 7, 2021. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  2. ^ "LIFE OF CRIME (15)". Artificial Eye. British Board of Film Classification. August 18, 2014. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  3. ^ "Life of Crime (2013)". IMDb. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  4. ^ "Life of Crime (2014)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  5. ^ "Nelson Mandela biopic to have world premiere at Toronto". BBC News. 23 July 2013. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  6. ^ "Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2013 opens with Life of Crime". The National. Abu Dhabi. October 2013.
  7. ^ "Traverse City Film Fest to feature Elmore Leonard premiere, screenings on the water". Detroit Free Press.
  8. ^ Goldberg, Matt (February 16, 2012). "Jennifer Aniston and Dennis Quaid Join Jackie Brown Prequel, Switch". Collider. Archived from the original on January 8, 2020. Retrieved October 26, 2013.
  9. ^ "Jennifer Aniston: Bundled Up on "Untitled Elmore Leonard Project" Set". GossipCenter. February 5, 2013. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  10. ^ "Life of Crime". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved February 14, 2024. Edit this at Wikidata
  11. ^ "Life of Crime". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  12. ^ Shoard, Catherine (September 4, 2014). "Life of Crime review – a good-natured, unexpectedly winning treat". The Guardian. Archived from the original on March 8, 2021. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  13. ^ Kenny, Glenn (August 29, 2014). "Life of Crime". Ebert Digital LLC. Archived from the original on November 14, 2021. Retrieved December 19, 2021.
  14. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (August 28, 2014). "Husband of Kidnap Victim: Take My Wife, Please". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 18, 2018. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  15. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (August 28, 2014). "'Life of Crime' movie review: When ransom goes wrong". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 20, 2021. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  16. ^ Macfarlane, Steve (August 28, 2014). "Review: Life of Crime". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved December 21, 2021.
  17. ^ Nashawaty, Chris (September 3, 2014). "Life of Crime". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on March 10, 2021. Retrieved December 21, 2021.