review for Scenes of the Crime on AllMovie

Scenes of the Crime (2001)
by Josh Ralske review

Dominique Forma's Scenes of the Crime is a well-acted neo-noir with strong characters and an effectively tense and seedy tone, but sloppy plotting and weak dialogue hamper its overall entertainment value. Jeff Bridges delivers a typically strong performance as Jimmy, the coiled-snake calm kidnapping victim. The cast around him is surprisingly effective. Of particular note is Noah Wyle, who sinks his teeth into a nasty role, clearly relishing a chance to play the heavy. His performance is not quite convincing, but it's enjoyable. Jon Abrahams, best-known for his comedic roles, has a natural lunkheaded quality that gives Lenny an appropriately comic edge. Jimmy, seeing Lenny decked out like Steve McQueen from Bullitt, immediately underestimates him, which is understandable. Madchen Amick (of Twin Peaks fame) and Morris Chestnut (a talented, underutilized actor who launched his career with Boyz 'N the Hood) are very engaging as a hot-blooded couple working in a nearby deli who get drawn into the intrigue. But after establishing their relationship, and involving them peripherally in the story, Forma essentially forgets about them. This is indicative of the haphazardness of the film's plot line. The situation these characters find themselves in is extremely contrived and the film's big twist is pretty predictable. The run-of-the-mill tough guy dialogue is rarely sharp enough to compensate for these flaws. The film is mildly entertaining, but forgettable, and it lets down its talented performers.