There is something about the anti-hero that everyone likes. They break rules, kick back at society and rule the day until their ultimate demise or downfall. Cinema has always cheered them on, trying to share in their ultra-cool defiance - more so it seems in recent years, especially after Tarrentino and the slew of imitators. Along comes Bandits, with its main characters being two loveable bank robbers and their gang.
Joe Blake (Bruce Willis) and Terry Collins (Billy Bob Thornton) begin the film by escaping from their incarceration in a cement mixer. On the run, they dream of making a fortune and retiring to Mexico. Joe is handsome, suave, strong and also provides the muscle out of the pair. Terry is a thinker, a rambling compulsive neurotic and a hypochondriac of the highest order. The doer and the thinker make a great team and decide to pursue a career robbing banks. They formulate a plan which involves going into a town, selecting a bank and locating the bank manager. They then visit the bank managers home in the evening and take the house-hold hostage - all without causing too much distress (at one point they are sitting having dinner with one of the hostage families and they are treated as guests rather than robbers). In the morning they accompany the bank manager to the respective bank and rob the place before the start of business day. This techniques earns them the title of The Sleepover Bandits. Not only are Joe and Terry well known, they are actual popularised for being polite and making the robberies unbelievably easy on everyone involved.
Things are going to plan until Terry unwillingly brings a hostage, Kate (Cate Blanchett) to the gang. Kate is a business-widow and craves the excitement and much to Joe's pleasure (and Terry's displeasure) insists on joining the gang. As Kate falls in love with both men, they all commence an uncomfortable three-way love affair. This results in all their lives becoming much more complicated. With these distractions can the achieve their dream of Mexico and will they be able to keep their distractions to a minimum?
Barry Levinson directs some of the most talented stars in a lacklustre, overlong and boring film. The stars play characters who are complex and eccentric, but you really don't care about them too much. It has a few funny moments and after a good first half with humour, heists and action it falls and painfully splutters into the second half. The silly love story labours on and drags its heels far to long. The love triangle loses the viewer and boredom quickly sets in. The ending is unbelievably predictable. If Barry Levinson had kept the pace a lot faster, we might not have had time to work out the ending, but the slow second half gives you enough time to think about it (as well as a great many other things - like 'Did I leave the oven on? and 'Why does my Aunt walk in every time I'm changing?').The chemistry between the stars crackles off the screen but it cannot save the film.
At just a fraction over 2 hours, the film fizzles out of memory like a wet firework, leave the feeling that the bandits have only robbed you.
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