Cast:

Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, John Hawkes, Yasiin Bey, Isla Fisher, Will Forte, Mark Boone jnr

Director:

Daniel Schechter

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Running time:

99 mins

Rating:

R16 (violence, offensive language, drug use, sexual material

Verdict: Kidnap comedy drama with a sense of restraint.

No matter what your favourite is of films based on Elmore Leonard books (and I'm for Out of Sight ahead of Jackie Brown), this crime comedy will deliver a surprise.

Refreshingly for the genre, it is distinguished by a self-restraint that may make it feel underpowered if you like your movies in your face. But there's some real wit to the writing (director Schechter adapts the 1978 novel The Switch) together with a bunch of winning performances. In some ways, it's a valentine to the 70s, when crims were decent people and their targets were the bad guys.

The mark here is Detroit property developer Frank Dawson, who has been cheating both the taxman and his wife, Mickey (Aniston).

When a couple of ex-cons, Louis (Hawkes) and Ordell (Bey, erstwhile rapper Mos Def), kidnap the missus, they don't realise that he's on the brink of serving her with divorce papers; if he doesn't pay the ransom and they carry out their threat to kill her, it will save him a lifetime of alimony payments.

As complications pile up, something way more imponderable than Stockholm syndrome sets in.

The 70s setting makes room for shocking clothes and wonderful music, as well as a nostalgia-inducing modesty: mega-rich Dawson's house seems run-of-the-mill by today's showy standards and the million-dollar ransom demand is almost sweet.

So are the characters, most of whom are slightly dim and out of their depth.

When Mickey seems horrified at a captor's collection of Nazi memorabilia, he asks, puzzled, "What, you don't like history?"

Add to that some snappy editing, a genial, even gentle tone and a last-scene payoff to die for, and you have a small but perfectly formed example of the genre. Fun.

- TimeOut