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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.09%
Worth A Look34.04%
Average: 28.72%
Pretty Bad: 10.64%
Total Crap: 8.51%

8 reviews, 46 user ratings

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Bandits (2001)
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by Scott Weinberg

"The three leads save this lumbering comedy from being a total mess."
3 stars

Though it's certainly not a bad movie, Bandits comes off like a funny joke told by a bad comedian: You'll pay attention, and the set-up is fine but the punch line misses the mark. Despite some solid performances and a handful of clever sequences, Bandits manages to ramble on aimlessly just enough to drag the film down. Another week in the editing studio, and this one would have been greatly improved.

Although a fine filmmaker, Barry Levinson has a rather spotty track record these days. Although he's directed several excellent films in the past (Diner, Wag the Dog, The Natural and Tin Men most notably), there's also a lot of weak material littering his resume: Jimmy Hollywood, Sphere, Toys. While Bandits certainly isn't as bad as those films, it still falls firmly in Levinson's "gray area": A movie worth seeing, but one that could have been so much better. (For further examples of this, see Levinson's Sleepers, Avalon, Good Morning Vietnam and the vastly overrated Rain Man.)

Fresh off last year's "independent" disaster that was An Everlasting Piece, Levinson returns once again to a big budget and lots of movie stars. On hand for this one are Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Cate Blanchett, and the performances from these three alone make Bandits well worth seeing. (I was reminded of another movie featuring Blanchett and Thornton called Pushing Tin; a mediocre film made entertaining only because of the acting performances.)

Joe Blake and Terry Lee Collins are a pair of two-bit criminals who escape from prison in rather impromptu fashion. After hiding out with an unsupervised teenage couple, the two devise a plan for robbing banks: Forcibly "spend the night" at the home of the bank manager before escorting him to the bank, where the duo can claim their booty without all the pesky customers and security guards.

Their scheme works rather well until they inevitably become media sensations all over the country. The pair's good nature and non-violent approach makes it increasingly more difficult to acquire the cash, and the cops are hot on their trail. Making matters much stickier is the sudden inclusion of "runaway wife" Kate Wheeler, who seems to have romantic intentions toward both Joe and Terry.

The most fun on display in Bandits comes from the simple bantering conversations between these three characters. Terry is a rampant hypochondriac, Joe has a sensitive side beneath his gruff exterior and Kate may be simply a basket case. With lesser actors, these three could be the pinnacle of all things annoying. Fortunately, all three of the performers nail their characters dead on, and the film is carried to its conclusion by the sheer talent and will of Willis, Thornton and Blanchett.

Clocking in at an unnecessarily lengthy 122 minutes, Bandits could have been a much better film if the screws had been tightened a bit. Several sequences run on way too long, and the overall structure of the plot is a mess. (Movie clue: If the audience is told at the beginning of the film that both heroes are DIE at the end, you can bet the farm that some 'twist' ending is on tap.) Ah yes, Bandits is a 'flashback movie', and that's a cheat in my book.

If you're a fan of these three performers, it's a safe bet that you'll have a good time with Bandits. Casual moviegoers may enjoy it, but will be hard pressed to actually remember anything about it. Star power and chemistry save this one from complete disaster, but actors alone can't turn a mediocre script into a fantastic film.

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originally posted: 11/04/01 09:18:11
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User Comments

6/20/07 Muted Orbz This wasn't acting, that's really Billy Bob. Ugh. 1 stars
6/04/07 Wendy Do you smell burning feathers? 4 stars
3/25/07 mb Good story ... well done. 5 stars
2/10/07 MP Bartley "Beavers and ducks!" 4 stars
8/17/05 Agent Sands One of my top 10 favorites. Elmore Leonard meets Woody Allen. 5 stars
8/08/05 R.W. Welch Shows some zip in the early going but slowly runs out of steam. Billy B has some good lines 3 stars
3/07/05 Charlie Being filmed in Oregon with a good cast, I have to give it 4 *. 4 stars
11/15/04 Joopy loop This is a 3.5 star movie from me, but still worth a look 3 stars
11/15/04 Ray I really like it!!! 5 stars
10/18/04 will rogers my favourite ivan campo tune: 1 stars
5/06/04 J.Peckerfoot harmless nad funny.great s.track and billy bob rocks! 5 stars
5/01/04 zach witham beavers and ducks- best line ever 5 stars
6/24/03 adrian lane kate what a gal 4 stars
4/08/03 Shadaan Felfeli i liked the film and loved the cast....Blanchet is my idea of a woman 4 stars
3/31/03 Paul Coleman Way below average. What was going on in the filmmakers minds? 2 stars
3/22/03 Allen How can you people like this pile of puke?!! 2 stars
2/02/03 Charlie Freschl I enjoyed it a lot 5 stars
11/03/02 Kari Wald BEAVERS AND DUCKS -best line ever 5 stars
9/18/02 Danielle Ophelia Very amusing, REAL comedy. The three leads rocked my socks. 4 stars
5/19/02 Chowie billy bob thornton is so fine.. 5 stars
4/30/02 katie hilarious.. odd comedy. GREAT! 5 stars
4/23/02 Monday Morning Bruce Willis...someday this guy's gonna make it big. 4 stars
4/19/02 Weedle Billy Bob continues to amaze 4 stars
3/22/02 antje quite like it 4 stars
1/23/02 Robert Cate is as perfect as always, therefore, it's a movie worth seeing 4 stars
1/22/02 Some Guy excellent movie! The movies ending was great. What a twist. 5 stars
12/14/01 Michael A funny movie that is just a litte too long. 4 stars
12/10/01 Matthew Bartley Could be more exciting but very funny nonetheless.Thornton was excellent 4 stars
11/22/01 Richard Connehey C ate was almost not horrible and outlandishly boring...almost 1 stars
11/22/01 j man really good movie 5 stars
11/22/01 steve goldenbaum Billy bob should stick to playing retards. A movie for Budgie brained commies. 1 stars
11/22/01 Barbara Cagle Going to see it again. Bought the soundtrack- it is awesome! Will buy the video too! 5 stars
10/31/01 ustabawillisfan Worst Willis movie I have seen. Trite, predictable and waste of time 1 stars
10/30/01 titsboobyala I shit on this film and your mom 1 stars
10/29/01 Jimmy James fun? i guess so, i barely smiled, cate rocks ass 3 stars
10/24/01 Barbara Cagle Loved it! Good escape film. Bruce Willis still melts my butter! Billy Bob/Cate are GREAT! 5 stars
10/23/01 spaceworm Cate. Yes indeed. And the guys are okay. 4 stars
10/19/01 Jestyr Way to predictable, it had brief moments on non-sucking. 2 stars
10/18/01 cindy Great movie...Billy Bob stole the show!!! 5 stars
10/17/01 Suzz easily the biggest waste of time, energy and money this year 1 stars
10/16/01 thanatos rarely do i see such interesting characters, and their interaction was hilarious. 5 stars
10/15/01 Dave Knave It had it's moments, but ultimately predictable and forgettable. 4 stars
10/15/01 poetchuck Wonderful movie with interesting twists 5 stars
10/13/01 KCobain Great, just what we need. Glorification of bank robbers. 1 stars
6/05/01 Ben Donnelly great movie, it was fantastic 5 stars
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