Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
15 to Adult
Year of Release:
If you like crime dramas, comedies, road trip, and silly odd couple type films, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy “Bandits”. Director David Hoberman has taken several different genres and bent them into a movie with few objections. But let me state right from the beginning that I firmly believe in the Ten Commandments. I believe that Christians should uphold them all in their lives (including “Thou shalt not steal”). “Bandits” (like the not-long-ago “American Outlaws”) is a film about bank robbers. If you are bothered by this premise, then don’t finish this review and skip out altogether. But if you like well written dramas that don’t insult your intelligence—then “Bandits” is a decent outing. Barry Levinson comes up with a likable script with a strong cast and crew that really contribute to the overall enjoyment of this film. Viewing “Bandits” in the packed theater was especially fun too, with spontaneous laughing echoing throughout. (How often does that happen?)
“Bandits” is about two escaped convicts: Joe Blake (Bruce Willis) and friend Terry Collins (Billy Bob Thorton). While Billy Bob isn’t one of my favorite actors, he should without a doubt get an Oscar nod for his fine work. In an interview, Mr. Thorton informed that he really does have some phobias (including the one mentioned in the movie—an allergy toward antique furniture. His film persona is a brainy hypochondriac.) You can just tell when an actor is enjoying the role or just going through the motions, and both Billy and Bruce display great on screen presence and chemistry.
The two decide to rob banks and raise the money to move out of the country and start a business of their own. Terry comes up with the ingenious idea of sleeping overnight with the bank manager and going with them in the morning to the bank. The two quickly become folk heroes and earn the reputation as the Sleepover Bandits. We see them early in the film robbing their last bank and the story is told through flashbacks.
Joe recruits cousin Harvey (Troy Garity) to drive the get-away car. Harvey longs to be a Hollywood stuntman and is challenged by the thrill. The threesome is just getting established when Terry is hit by a distraught and bored housewife named Kate (Cate Blanchett) out driving around. She joins the gang and becomes the object of the typical love triangle. Some of the gaps in our story are filled in by Darren Head (Bobby Slayton), who is the host of a TV show entitled “Criminals at Large”.
“Bandits” contains a little language and some violence. My main moral objection is the storyline surrounding the love triangle. Kate sleeps with both guys and is married to neither. I could’ve seen that one coming. They take the story one step further and imply that she may not have to choose between one or the other—Joe and Terry together make up the perfect man. How sweet. Fortunately, this triangle does not become a major part of the film.
The “PG-13” rating should be observed. Parents with teens should be cautioned of the theme of pre-marital sex and implied multiple partners. I do recommend the film with those cautions (we all understand that Hollywood usually does manage to mess up a good thing).