Everyone loves hard core killing, murder, rape, and lunatic ranting right? Quentin Tarantino, like it or not, started a revolution with Pulp Fiction. The 90's saw the popularization of the anti-hero, and theaters are flooded with dozens of films about bad men doing bad things. But at last, the reign of the sick twisted psycho is ended; as Bandits blows holes in the head of the Tarantino mold and instead creates a fun film about GOOD men doing occasionally bad things.
Bandits stars Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thorton as two polarly opposite cons on the run. After a daring and unplanned jail break courtesy of the tough as nails Willis, the pair plan their future as wealthy casino orders south of the border. But paradise costs money, and so the neurotic, hypochondriac, Thorton plans a series of ingenious bank heists the likes of which the world has never seen. Along the way they pick up a passenger, a bored, and perhaps unbalanced housewife played brilliantly by Cate Blanchett.
Their success depends on kidnapping the bank manager the night before and spending the night with his family. In the morning, they, along with their hostages enter the bank, empty the vault and leave. But even criminals have a conscience, and despite their lawbreaking nature, neither ever truly slips to the dark side of crime.
Despite a slow beginning, Bandits quickly hits its stride in the banter between its two left of center criminals and their would be victims. And soon those first 5 minutes are forgotten amidst a host of Thorton's hilarious neurosis and the burgeoning love between Blanchette and her captors.
It has become so rare to see a caper movie which doesn't end in a hail of death and destruction, that it is almost a shock to see film about robbers take a more lighthearted and humanistic turn. But Bandits isn't strictly a caper film, nor is it a character piece, a buddy story, or a romance. Rather, it tends to be all those things all at once, and in many ways that lack of focus is its strength. Where most films might turn into a writhing mass of confusion at this point, Bandits uses multiple angles to give us a complete and interesting story.
Its true, Willis' character Joe may seem a bit underdeveloped, but Joe's role is that of the strong silent type whom all other characters seem to be anchored to. Blanchett is truly a delight. Like some fluttery, desperate angel, she manages to seem unbalanced and completely in control all in the same instant, dancing through the film as she deals with her own impossible issues and dissatisfaction with life in general. And who knew Thorton had such a knack for comedy? Two-parts Jerry Lewis, three parts Jerry Seinfeld, Thorton's witty, disturbed character brings guffaws to every scene.
Bandits is a return to the type of film making that made crime fun. And while its likely that the gritty Tarantino bullet fest may remain, perhaps Bandits is a sign of things to come.
Reviewed By: Joshua Tyler