Movie Review: Dreyfuss and Sorvino are at odds over their “Crime Story”

Some good ideas and chewy, hardboiled dialogue don’t entirely go to waste in “Crime Story,” a thriller that barely transcends its beyond-generic title.

You have to buy Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss, in his reduced-mobility years, as a retired mobster still capable of roughing guys one half to one-third his age up. And you can’t, something writer-director Adam Lipsius fails to write around.

But at least casting him opposite Oscar winner Mira Sorvino, as the estranged daughter who became a cop and liaison to a Congressman, should have paid off. It almost does, save for the peculiar, weepy outbursts nature their relationship. It seems out of character for them both.

“I’m not finished yet” Ben Myers (Dreyfuss) narrates from a hospital gurney. “If I wake up, I’ll chose different.”

It’s that last day leading up to him in the hospital that “Crime Story” encompasses.

He’s an ex-con “twelve years straight” thanks to a sweetheart deal with the powers that be. But he’s old and enfeebled, and his wife “left me without going anywhere.” She has dementia. Getting a nurse he can keep to help out with her isn’t easy, as Ben still carries a pistol and scares people.

Ben has one junky daughter (Joanna Walchuk), hospitalized and disowned, and another — the cop — whom he was never close with.

And on this fateful day, he just might need one’s forgiveness and the other’s help.

A cagey old SOB, Ben notices the white panel “surveyor” truck parked across the street when he leaves, and the power steering fluid stain in his driveway when he gets back and finds his house ransacked and wife further traumatized. But he has a nanny cam, and it shows him the faces of the crooks who emptied his safe and took the rings off his wife’s fingers.

“I decided to do what I do.”

The geriatric hunt for revenge is fun, if absurdly far-fetched. The father-daughter debate, two Oscar winners going toe to toe in a dimly-lit Savannah bar, has a moment or two.

And the political and personal plot has twists aplenty, enough to make this worth watching, despite the odd moment of acting excess (from each star), slack pacing (matched to a smoky, jazz-blues score) and a somewhat less-than-wholly-coherent finale.

But the players can’t quite put it over and the writer-director can’t quite pull it off. It’s a thriller that shuffles when it needs to trot, simmers when it needs to boil and goes on after it needs to end.

MPA Rating: R, violence, language (profanity) and some sexual content

Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Mira Sorvino, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Cress Williams

Credits: Scripted and directed by Adam Lipsius. A Saban release.

Running time: 1:39

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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