Bandits (12)

Review by Simon Bell

CRIME pays, as Woody Allen once put it. The hours are good and you travel a lot. In the case of Bandits’ anti-heroic duo Joe Blake and Terry Collins (Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton respectively) you also get to don preposterous wigs and cavort with bewitching red-haired beauties.

Freshly escaped from prison our two convicts, one butch the other nerdy, devise a simple plan for some quick cash: at night they will take a bank manager and his family hostage, then escort them to the vault the next morning to collect the lucre.

Amassing small fortunes and achieving fame as the “Sleepover Bandits” (I kid you not) they eventually run into bored housewife Kate (Cate Blanchett doing her enthusiastic best) with whom they both develop a romance.

Hopping from heist to heist, with the fuzz getting ever closer, the rivalry that has flared escalates and the cracks in this already untenable threesome begin to widen.

Concentrating not on the bank robberies and evolving affiliation between Terry and Joe that sustains them, Levinson plumps for a leaden absorption with the stresses and strains of maintaining a ménage-a-trois.

Bandits is a buddy movie, replete with the quirky relationship of two mismatched characters, that leaves one longing for the buddy act of James Belushi and his German shepherd dog sidekick of K9 – it’s certainly funnier.

It also borrows unsuccessfully from Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon (1975) - a simple heist leading to a media frenzy – with none of its excitement or originality.
In the end it’s a frustration knowing what Billy Bob, Bruce and Barry are capable of.

Essentially the flick is what one well-read commentator would call the perfect “parking lot movie”… i.e. you’ve forgotten what you’d just seen by the time you reach your car.