Parents' Guide to

Small Town Crime

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Crime thriller has alcoholism, drunk driving, violence.

Movie R 2017 91 minutes
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This is an excellent crime thriller involving a flawed lead character trying to redeem himself. Small Town Crime is a movie drenched in alcoholism and violence, as Mike Kendall (played by John Hawkes), a former cop who got fired for being drunk on the job while his partner was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop, tries to prove his worth after driving home from a bender one morning and finding a dying young prostitute on the road. The more he tries to prove that he's not a colossal screw-up, the more he screws up (or worse) the lives of those in his orbit. And yet, for all of his many faults and for all the trouble he causes while going to tremendous and questionable lengths to solve this murder mystery, Kendall isn't unlikeable. Of course, we've seen this type of antiheroism before, but it's this redemption component to the movie that really makes it stand out.

The movie also does a great job of economically creating a seedy world of rough bars and shady characters. Even the most minor of characters brings something to the movie so they stand out and heighten what's going on. They go beyond the lazy archetypes or stereotypes that so often foul up gritty crime action thrillers such as this one. Every element works together to create an enjoyable story and a satisfying conclusion. It's the kind of movie that pays heed to the conventions of noir stories while still carving out a space all its own.

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