Bandits (2001)

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 10/22/01 20:52:12

"Willis finds a smart script, made better by the inclusion of Blanchett."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

It would have been so easy to miss this movie, if you were me. I mean, it stars Bruce Willis. You know what I'm saying, right? Bruce Willis, he of the dull action movie, he of the crooked grin and corny cliche, a Schwarzenegger without the Germanic accent and 'roid addiction. In other words, not a big draw if you like your movies 'thinky'. Yet, every now and then he manages to say yes to a script that isn't written in purple Crayola, and Bandits is just such a project. Willis still manages to play both ham and cheese, but with Billy Bob Thornton and Cate Blanchett beside him, you almost forget you're looking at the man who made "Yippee-kay-yay motherfucker" a household catchphrase.

Brucey Bob and Billy Bob are bankrobbers, recently busted out of the big house and looking for a big score or twenty. They rob banks, generally a pasttime that's looked down upon in good company, but Brucey Bob and Billy Bob are all that and a bag of crack in the bank robbing game, so it's not too long before they're all celebritied up and being lauded by those they rob, as they're robbing them. Enter pissy neglected housewife played by Catey Bob Blanchett, who finagles her way into the whole bank robbing scam as a means to escaping the drudgery or being a rich housefrau.

Who falls for who? I'm not going to give away any trade secrets here, but suffice to say things get a little triangled up and as the movie rolls along it goes from entertaining to weird to very weird to "okay, how did we get here again?"

Billy Bob is on top form as the 'smart' guy of the trio, engrossing himself in a series of hypochondriaic mystery illnesses and ailments. Though the whole "I've got a tumor" schtick does grow weary after a while, Billy Bob manages to infuse it with a whole lot of giggles and proves he's not all messed up by the stuff he and Angelina have been doing on weekends.

Cate Blanchett is, as always (and I mean always), perfection. She showed in Elizabeth that she can do complex and nail it. She showed in Pushing Tin that she can do vacuous and nail it. Here she shows she can do complex, vacuous, love interest, provocateur, seductress, mentalcase and bitch - all with aplomb.

Bandits does have issues that should have been dealt with at the development stage, but that's possibly being harsh on a decent film amongst the ocean of utter gobshite that has been released by Hollywood this year. If Bandits was intended to be fun, it hit the mark. If it was intended to be complex and analytical of the human condition, it missed it.

And bank robbery glorification aside (anyone who takes morality tips from movies deserves what they get), there's plenty to enjoy. Take a date, and leave her alone so she can enjoy a decent flick.

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