Bandits

Bandits

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The bank robbery in Heat was one of the most thrilling cinematic experiences you're likely to see and they didn't even succeed. Al Pacino spent the entire Dog Day Afternoon holed up in a bank, because things, as usual, went wrong. It's not as easy as it looks on screen.

Just to annoy everyone, Bandits shows that any old fool with an iota of confidence can pull it off. Joe (Bruce Willis) is fearless. He'll try anything. He doesn't care. Terry (Billy Bob Thornton) worries about his health, is shy with women and likes to plan ahead.

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These guys execute a series of audacious bank raids by dropping in on the manager of a small town branch and inviting themselves to dinner. They stay the night, go to the bank with the boss first thing in the morning and help themselves. Tabloid TV is quick to name them - The Sleep Over Bandits - and they become famous.

Somewhere along the line, they pick up Kate (Cate Blanchett), a disaffected rich wife, who is bored of her life, infuriated with a husband who takes her for granted and starved of excitement. Women as feisty and beautiful as this don't usually run off with escaped convicts, but then this is not an ordinary film. It's a caper.

Willis turns on the charm and is so laid back, he lets Thornton and Blanchett steal scene after scene. Because nothing is believable, everything depends on the script and the chemistry. If this had been played by Steve Martin, Bill Murray and Cameron Diaz, it wouldn't have worked. The comedy needs to be careful, not carefree, and it is.

The stars work well together. The menage a trois is almost innocent. Willis looks good with a light brown pony tail. Thornton, who never plays the same part twice, gives a terrific performance and Blanchett, with flaming red hair, brings intelligence to a character that is patently short of it.

"Kate is an iceberg waiting for The Titanic," Joe says.

She wins them over one by one. She'll win you, too.

Reviewed on: 29 Nov 2001
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Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton are bank robbers in a menage a trois caper.
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Director: Barry Levinson

Writer: Harley Peyton

Starring: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Troy Garity, January Jones.

Year: 2000

Runtime: 120 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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Ocean's Eleven