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Crime Story (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 18, 2023


Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Mira Sorvino, DW Moffett, Cress Williams, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Derek Russo, Andrea Frankle, Haviland Stillwell, Joanna Walchuk, Ray Iannicelli, James Hammond, James William Ballard, Alejandra Rivera Flaviá, Aiden Malik, Charlie Benton, Matt Markopoulos, Megan McFarland, Tye Claybrook Jr. and David Steven Perez.

Screenplay by Adam Lipsius.

Directed by Adam Lipsius.

Distributed by Saban Films. 98 minutes. Rated R.

Crime Story is living proof that winning an Oscar does not guarantee an ongoing Hollywood career. The two leads of this low-budget indie each won one. Richard Dreyfuss won Best Actor for The Goodbye Girl in 1977 and Mira Sorvino won Best Supporting Actress for Mighty Aphrodite in 1995. Dreyfuss was also nominated for Best Actor, also in 1995, for Mr. Holland’s Opus.

The Goodbye Girl isn’t even Dreyfuss’ best remembered film – he was also in Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and American Graffiti – but this is one of the rare significant roles he gets these days. Last time I remember seeing him was in a smallish supporting role in Book Club. Sorvino has had a more active career, with fairly regular supporting turns over the years, but she also never lived up to the promise expected from her early in her career after early successes like Romy & Michelle’s Class Reunion and Norma Jean & Marilyn. Now, all these years later, here they are, toiling away in a small-time revenge thriller.

Crime Story isn’t even necessarily bad for this kind of thing, although it’s not great either. You just expected so much more from a movie featuring two Oscar winners. Add to that a strong supporting cast which includes Cress Williams (Black Lightning, Hart of Dixie), DW Moffett (Switched at Birth, Friday Night Lights) and Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heavy, Bird Box).

The incredibly generic title for the film (it was apparently earlier going to be called The Last Job or Reckoning) pretty much gives you an idea of the level of storyline here. However, due to the strength of the acting and some slick and offbeat action films, Crime Story is… somewhat… better than it could have been.

Dreyfuss plays Ben Myers, an aging former mob boss. He had gone straight about a decade earlier – he now owns a bar and lives in a very unremarkable ranch house with his second wife, who is suffering from dementia – and Ben is basically running out the clock. Of course, the clock is just about run down – he has just learned that he has terminal cancer and has mere weeks to live.

One day, while he is at the bar, his home is robbed in a scam where three thugs pretended to be gas workers and gained entrance into his home through his wife’s confusion. The bad guys take everything Ben has left, including his self-respect. He was once a man to be reckoned with in town, now he was just another senior citizen victim. Therefore, he decides to avenge the robbery himself.

He has video of the robbers taken from a nanny cam that he uses to keep an eye on his ill wife. He knows the (first) names of the thieves. He also saw their van before he left. He felt uneasy, but didn’t do anything about it, other than noticing the name on the truck. It was a fake sign, but he also knows that it had a power-steering leak, and he is able to have his assistant (Vince) track it down through checking the local auto shops.

Sorvino plays Nick, his estranged daughter. Long ago she became a cop as a rebellion against his dad’s criminal ways. Now she is working as the police liaison for a slightly crooked seeming conservative Congressman (Moffett). Nick is also keeping an eye on her dad and sees him starting to spin out, so she intervenes.

That’s pretty much the story. Nothing overly original, but as expected things blow up as the action climaxes, there are lots of secrets revealed and a pretty violent climax.

There is nothing overly special about Crime Story – except perhaps that it has an above average cast for such a potboiler. Still, it knows what it is and delivers its pulp narrative fairly well. No one is going to get an Oscar from Crime Story, but it is a relatively enjoyable watch if you run across it on late night cable.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2021 All rights reserved. Posted: August 12, 2021.

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