copyright © Jedo Dre 2011

Crime Spree is a dark crime comedy about a group of French thieves getting into trouble in the US after a job goes sour and this movie is f-ing awesome! It is amazing that this film got stuck under the radar and almost faded into obscurity.

Let us start with two notable participants: Harvey Keitel and Gérard Depardieu. These two people are a treat to watch and comedy suits them well, but it is nice that they do not overstay their welcome in scenes and there is a large supporting cast who also do a good job, though some do it better than others. One of the protagonists is Albert Dray, who is an obscure actor outside of France, but he gets a good amount of screen time and his appearance as a short nice guy really adds to the character of the main group to which he belongs. Another notable appearance is Abe Vigoda as a crime boss. He is not on screen for long but for long enough to be awesome. There is a Hispanic gang member that wasn't even part of any jokes but made me laugh with just his facial expressions and hand gestures.

The only problem is that the main protagonists are not very fleshed out. There are quite a few of them and you do not learn much about their background. One of the thief protagonists dies mid-movie and I wasn't even sure who it was and when he entered the movie.

The dialogue is smart and flows well. The jokes are subtle but still good. Sometimes they hit you 30 seconds after the fact. Sometimes they only work if you understand a little bit about the movie's background or the cultural differences. Perhaps this is another one of the movie's flaws, probably prompting a lot of the humour to go over people's heads. The humour would work if all the people involved were really famous and the cultural nuances were all well-known stereotypes, but the movie is at times too subtle and obscure for its own good.

Let me tell you something and see if you are still on board. Half of the movie is in French with English subtitles. If you are already hesitating about this movie based on this information then it is probably not for you. It is that kind of movie with a foreign taste and a special peculiarity.

Camera work is notably interesting. There is for example a continuous shot of a group of guys moving from room to room as the camera follows them from above going over the walls. No cuts. There are smart shots like panning over into the sky of one city and then panning back down to see another city.

In general, you can sense the effort behind the film. There is a scene at one point in which one of the thieves needs to steal a wallet from a stranger. The thief bumps into the guy on a street and makes a move for the wallet. Now, how would this end in your typical American crime comedy? The thief would skilfully pull out the wallet (although slapstick may be involved) and the victim would not notice it and would keep on walking. In this movie however, the victim does notice and naturally starts running after the thief, though in the end the thief still gets wallet. This short chase scene did not need to be added. It takes more effort to add it. However, it does feel more natural, realistic and in line with the movie's premise that the thieving protagonists are bad at what they do.

I heard about the similarities with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels but I watched that movie, and although it does run in much the same way, I like Crime Spree better. I did not laugh once during Lock Stock, but I did during this movie. And there are so many movies like Lock Stock now that you cannot call it plagiarism. It is just its own genre now.

Crime Spree is a smart movie, perhaps a little too smart at times. It does not bring any revolutionary changes to the crime comedy formula, but is funny and well-made and is most definitely recommended.

Crime Spree