Volume 95, Issue 24

Tuesday, October 16, 2001
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Wanted: two Bandits guilty of overdone plot

A visual masterpiece

Bruce and Emma both get a well-deserved Elbow

Wanted: two Bandits guilty of overdone plot


Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Troy Garity

Directed By: Barry Levinson

Three stars (out of five)

By Christina McKenzie
Gazette Writer

Warner Bros. Photo

The eccentric duo of Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton have a capacity for adventure and danger that doesn't add up in this part soap opera, part crime-drama flick.

Based on a true story of fugitive bank robbers, Willis plays the testosterone-packed and impetuous Joe, while Thornton plays Terry, an obsessive-compulsive, brainy hypochondriac. Together, they become "The Sleepover Bandits."

After the pair's grand escape from an Oregon prison in a cement truck, they travel through the woods and into their new profession – robbing banks.

Their new careers begin when the bandits arrive at the home of a bank manager the night prior to their first heist, take the family hostage and complete the mission the next morning.

With the help of getaway driver Harvey (Troy Garity), their success is undeniable. The Bandits' charm and good manners carry them from Oregon to California.

When a lonely and emotionally unstable housewife, Kate (Cate Blanchett), literally runs into one of the Bandits, she becomes an appendage to their thieving ways. True to the conventions of comedy, Kate contributes the romantic elements to the film and instantly falls in love with both men. This overdone love scenario robs from the film's otherwise original plot.

Kate's presence provides relief for both men. Joe's anger is softened by Kate's passion, while Terry receives empathetic intimacy after expressing his fear of antiques.

Kate believes that, between these two men, she has found her niche. However, her presence quickly causes a rift between Terry and Joe and Kate finds she cannot choose between them because only together do they make her "perfect man."

Aside from the weakness of the romantic plot, Bandits exemplifies fantastic cinematography. Many of the camera angles and settings parallel the journeys and dreams of the characters.

Following Joe and Terry's escape from prison, their drive into the lush Oregon forests appear to symbolize their newly acquired fugitive status. Likewise, when Terry first meets Kate and gets into the car with this distraught woman, her erratic motions and careless city driving parallel her mental state as mirrored by the film's cinematography.

The film's soundtrack successfully mimics the energy of the scenes. For instance, Joe and Terry break out of the penitentiary to a fast-paced chugging rhythm borrowed from the motion picture, The Great Escape.

Bandits provides some unexpected turns as the group steals, hijacks and takes hostages in their hopes to achieve the ideal dream of "tuxedos and margaritas" in Mexico.

The few laughs, elicited mostly by viewing Willis and Thornton in their identity concealing costumes, are by no means enough to make this film a classic in its genre.

Much like "The Sleepover Bandits," this film maintains a low profile.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001