The Men Who Robbed The Bank

The Men Who Robbed The Bank


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Five men have just completed a bank job. Now they're holed up in the safe house, awaiting the woman whose plan it was, who is supposed to be bringing them their freshly laundered cash. As time passes, they begin to wonder if she's coming. Could she have double crossed them? How much do they really know about her? And given that they were strangers at the point when she selected them, how far can they really trust each other?

It's an intriguing premise which, curiously, has been somewhat underexplored in film. A world away from the stylised violence of Reservoir Dogs, this is a distinctly low key affair with characters which, though sometimes clumsily drawn, seem like ordinary people one might meet anywhere. Each of them has his own reason for getting involved, from paying off debts to proving masculinity or simply trying to build a career. Of course, one of them is an infiltrator, a cop, but it's where this doesn't go that makes the film interesting - again, it feels like a natural story, simply unwinding in its own way without regard for genre convention. The guns we see in the first act come into play in due course but not in the way one might expect and principally as a means to explore character.

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Making a film like this work takes a lot of skill and Mills isn't entirely successful, though this is a huge step forward from his debut, The Big Something. Each role was written with its particular actor in mind but some fit better than others. Stacie Stocker is the standout as the woman each man remembers slightly differently. She smoothly communicates the professionalism they are all depending on, yet a discreet departure from this leaves us wondering about her manipulative abilities and hints at a more exploitative agenda. The various flashbacks also call into question just how experienced these men, introduced as the best in their field, really are.

The dialogue in the film is uneven and the anger, when it emerges, is interesting in highlighting weakness but tends to dissipate rather than enhance tension. As the men become annoyed with each other over petty things like coffee-making skills, it's all too easy to feel annoyed with them too. That said, it's also easy to keep watching, to be drawn into their world. The film is well paced and surprisingly effective in building a sombre mood, even if it never quite captures the fear it seems to be aiming for. Mills is pushing at the boundaries of his own abilities but learning fast; it will be interesting to see where he goes next.

Reviewed on: 29 Sep 2013
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Five bank robbers wait in an empty house for the woman who is supposed to be bringing them their laundered money.

Director: Travis Mills

Writer: Travis Mills

Starring: Frank Gonzalez, James Leatherman, Jonathan Medina, Michael Hanelin, Rob Edwards, Stacie Stocker

Year: 2013

Runtime: 74 minutes

Country: US


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