Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
I went to see Bandits this past weekend due to a couple of favorable reviews and the fact that there were few other choices. My wife and I had narrowed our choice to several films, including "Don't Say a Word", but decided against that one due to poor reviews. Basically, that left us with "Hardball" and "Bandits", and because of the showtimes, we ended up choosing "Bandits".
I mention this mainly because we went to the theater to see a film, not necessarily to see Bandits. It just so happened that this one fit our schedule and appeared to have gotten at least fair reviews. We figured if we were going to spend the money, we should at least aim for the "least sucky" movie showing. As this was my frame of mind, perhaps I was less critical of the film than normal and this review should be taken with a grain of salt.
Joe (Bruce Willis) and Terry (Billy Bob Thornton) are a couple of career criminals, serving time in an Oregon prison. Joe sees an opportunity for escape, and goes for it - with Terry joining in out of pure habit of following Joe. They start dreaming of a new life south of the border, which is obviously going to require a lot of money. Joe's solution - rob a few banks.
Fresh from a jailbreak and still dressed in prison uniforms, the two immediately rob their first bank. From there, they head down to pick up Joe's cousin Phil (Anthony Burch), who dreams of becoming a professional stuntman. Phil becomes the "Outside" man during the bank robberies, serving as a lookout.
The gang develops a new method of robbing banks, by holding the bank manager and family hostage the evening before the crime. They all go down to the bank first thing in the morning and rob it before opening for business. This earns them the name "Sleepover Bandits" by the press, and makes for some very humorous parts of the film.
Eventually, Kate (Cate Blanchett) joins the gang when she unwittingly picks up Terry as a passenger after his getaway car runs out of gas shortly after a robbery. She's in the process of running away from a failed marriage to a wealthy man. Depressed, confused, and emotionally lost, she is fascinated by the bandits. While spending a night with the group in a secluded cabin serving as a hideout, she falls for Joe and he decides to keep her around.
Naturally, Terry gets a little jealous of Joe and Kate, but reluctantly agrees to allow Kate to tag along. Soon she becomes an integral part of the gang. Additionally, she and Terry develop a relationship, and the "love triangle" adds new stress factors to the group dynamics.
I won't go into details of how it all pans out, but things do get a little complicated for Joe, Terry, and Kate. Overall, I think it was handled well in the film and comes across as non-judgmental. The audience isn't asked to support or approve of the relationship, just understand some of why it developed. As Kate explains it to Joe and Terry, "The two of you combined make one perfect man."
Bruce Willis plays Joe, a dedicated thief with a quick temper. He's tough and prefers action to thought. Joe is your basic macho-dangerous-cool-irresistable-to-women kind of guy. Bruce Willis does a great job as Joe, although it's not a far departure from many other roles Willis has played in the past. Basically, he's tough, but lovable.
Billy Bob Thornton is Terry, a neurotic hypochondriac who is susceptible to suggestion. He's the brains of the outfit. He also adds the most humor and really makes the movie entertaining. Some of his work comes across a bit "slapstickish", but funny just the same.
Cate Blanchett portrays Kate, the wealthy, bored, underappreciated housewife leaving a dead-end marriage. She's very funny and adds a totally new dynamic to the relationship of Joe and Terry.
Anthony Burch is Phil, Joe's dim cousin striving to be a successful Hollywood stuntman, although he can't afford the proper equipment. Phil's goal in life is to become a stuntman so he can attract chicks. I'm not too familiar with Anthony Burch, but he does well as the screw-up who eventually manages to turn things around.
In summary, Bandits is a fun movie with a fairly simple plot. There is mild violence and the overall action is minimal. Make no mistake about it, this movie depends on acting rather than action, but it manages to do this extremely well. Billy Bob Thornton provides some wonderful comic relief and seems to work really well with Bruce Willis. Cate Blanchett further complements these two actors in rounding out the cast.
Bandits is very entertaining and doesn't get buried under superfluous action, complicated storyline or outrageous twist ending. There are a couple of small surprises along the way, but nothing too unpredictable.
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Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older