directed by Barry Levinson
(MGM, 2001)

Bandits is not your typical "buddies on a crime spree" sort of film.

First, it begins with a prison break orchestrated (on a whim) entirely by likeable tough guy Joe Blake (Bruce Willis). Neurotic pal Terry Lee Collins (Billy Bob Thornton) comes along for the ride primarily because he never thinks to say no.

Both guys, former bank robbers, take up their old trade with a new goal, enough swag to buy their own tropical hotel and restaurant, and a new gimmick -- spending a night with a bank manager and his family before accompanying them all in the morning to the bank, where the robbers clean out the vault. The unusual M.O. soon earns them a national reputation and a new monicker, the "sleepover bandits." Their sidekick, Harvey "Dog" Pollard (Troy Garity), is a low-watt bulb who wants to be a stuntman but, in the meantime, is content to drive the getaway car.

The story picks up when Collins hijacks a car driven by disenchanted housewife Kate Wheeler (Cate Blanchett), whose frustrations at home send her a little over the edge and on the road with her new bandit friends. A late-night conversation leads to the expected romance with Blake; a getaway gone wrong leads to an extended tryst with Collins. Soon, Wheeler is caught between two friends and lovers, and she cannot choose between them.

Meanwhile, the media believes Wheeler to be a hostage as the drama unfolds.

Bandits is fresh, funny and atypically clever. Willis and Thornton both supply the picture with a pair of warm, quirky robbers who are startingly different and yet perfect best friends. Blanchett adds a touch of beauty and grace to their lives on the run, and the romantic triangle she creates leads in unpredictable directions.

For a light romantic comedy with solid three-way star power and a ready supply of chuckles, make a date with Bandits.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 21 February 2004

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