Small Town Crime

Respected character actor John Hawkes gets a rare opportunity to play the hero, bouncing through this pulpy mystery like James Cagney in his prime. His character, a small-town cop, has been thrown off the force after his drunkenness on the job cost another officer his life; sober now and eager to redeem himself, he rescues a young woman who’s been assaulted and left on the roadside, and after she dies of her injuries, he begins to investigate. The movie was written and directed by brothers Ian and Eshom Nelms, who must have thumbed through a few Elmore Leonard paperbacks in their day; their movie offers a similar mix of cagey plotting, easygoing character comedy, and punchy violence. With Anthony Anderson, Robert Forster, and Octavia Spencer, who also served as executive producer.