Small Town Crime Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews this gritty crime thriller that tells the story of an alcoholic ex-cop, Mike Kendall, who, after finding the body of a young woman, becomes obsessed with redeeming himself by finding the killer.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )



Studio and Year: Lionsgate – 2017
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 92 minutes
Genre: Thriller

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: John Hawkes, Clifton Collins Jr., Octavia Spencer, Anthony Anderson, Robert Forster, James Lafferty, Daniel Sunjata, Michael Vartan, Don Harvey
Written & Directed by: Ian Nelms and Eshom Nelms
Music by: Chris Westlake
Region Code: A

Release Date: March 20, 2018

“Doing the Right Thing, the Wrong Way”

My Take:

Mike Kendall (John Hawkes), a disgraced ex-cop, is fighting a losing battle with the bottle. When he finds a woman left for dead at the side of a road, Kendall turns private eye to track down her killers, taking one last shot at redemption.

Written and directed by Ian and Eshom Nelms, Small Town Crime is crafty, and darkly humorous detective story, that, right from the outset, won me over. The film’s protagonist is a broken ex-cop whose past haunts him, while his present, is drowned in booze, and days spent on a merry-go-round of hangovers and forgettable behavior.

He is the story’s primary character, but what makes him engaging are the host of secondary character surrounding him, fueled by a very basic story, that is brought to life by the compelling way in which they all interact. Small Town Crime isn’t broad in scope, as it appropriately draws upon the unfolding nature of its proceedings, building tension that wonderfully interweaves its elements.

It’s just so much fun, and much of this is due to the performance of John Hawkes, one of my favorite character actors. The dialog is spot on, while the thematic tone is faithfully underscored by the ticking of the right boxes in the right order. The WHY associated with the mystery isn’t tough to figure out. It’s the WHAT that makes Small Town Crime fire on all cylinders. I watched it with my wife and had a ball. Can’t wait to give it another spin.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide: 

The rating is for strong violence, language, and some sexual references.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Video: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones: 
  • Compression: 

Small Town Crime comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.7 Mbps.

This video presentation offers little in the way of high Gloss, razor sharp imagery, but it seems to represent the film’s elements well. Primary colors appear satisfying while the film intentionally maintains a cooler overall palette that works well against the drab settings featured in the story. Complexions are texturally descriptive with lifelike tonality that varies only slightly among the cast. Resolution is very good although the film’s inherently softer elements leave some wide-angle shots with smoother lines, and average delineation. Close ups and mid-level shots are more revealing of the resolvable detail that draws out subtle textures in the people and objects within the frame. Contrast is on the money and blacks are stable but not overly dynamic in appearance. This wasn’t really a problem as there were few scenes that utilized low level material where this was consistently apparent. I saw no overt signs of video anomalies or compression related artifacts and thought this appeared to be a pristine quality encoding.

The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack had no trouble rendering clear and well-articulated dialog. Sound effects had notable dynamic energy so that they sounded full bodied and aurally satisfying. This is not a film that requires heavy use of surround sound to deliver its message but it does rely on the entire soundstage for proper atmosphere and low frequency detail from time to time. The mix does a decent job of creating the right sounds at the right levels and placing them appropriately in the sound field’s acoustic environment. When applied low frequency effects are excellent, underscoring sound effects, and the film’s music score. I thought the presentation served the source material well and sounded great.

Bonus Features:

  • Deleted/Extended Scenes
  • Crime and Character Featurette
  • Devising a Small-Town Crime Featurette
  • 3 Filmmakers Commentaries
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Written and directed by Ian and Eshom Nelms, Small Town Crime is a crafty, darkly humorous, and well-executed detective story, that is made all the better, thanks to a top-notch performance by John Hawkes. It comes to Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition audio/video, mated with a worthwhile supplemental set. Small Town Crime makes for a great piece of escapism that I highly recommend for genre fans.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems 

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