Second best bank robbers, behind Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight.
Two bank robbers, charming Joseph (Bruce Willis) and neurotic Terry (Billy Bob Thornton), battle over the affections of Kate (Cate Blanchett), a housewife they kidnapped before one of their big heists. Gaining notoriety as the “Sleepover Bandits,” the partners then force a reality TV show host to cover their 15 minutes of fame while they go on a crime spree — Kate in tow.
Director Barry Levinson usually does a lot of good films that are all very talky so it was kind of cool to see him touch a thriller, with some talking there too. However, it’s not the best thing he’s done.
The script here is at times very good and other times, just plain weak. I liked how the film doesn’t take itself way too seriously with all the robberies and there is a lot of funny things that are said and done which will surprisingly have you laughing. It’s sort of like a combination of The Odd Couple and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and it surprisingly works well. Let’s not also forget the little twists and turns that keep this film entertaining especially when the action is happening as well.
The problem with the script here is that the film is about 2 hours long and the script can’t really keep itself going for that long. By the end, there were many dry spots where they started to rely too much on slapstick and just weak comedy. The film also acts a little cute by showing barely any blood while the robberies take place, but that’s just dumb because blood or no blood, there’s nothing at all about robbery and kidnapping that’s wholesome.
However, the main reason this film actually works is because the cast is so damn likable. Bruce Willis is awesome as the straight-man, Joe Blake. Willis practically plays the same guy in every film ever since his Die Hard days but it never stops working for him and here it works even more because while the whole film is a tad goofy, he always plays it straight and never seems out-of-place. Billy Bob Thornton is a riot as Terry Collins, who is so up-tight about everything that it’s almost too laughable to be taken seriously. Thornton does a great job here playing a character that some people would usually get irritated of quickly, but thanks to Thornton’s appeal, the character is the best in the whole film. Cate Blanchett is sexy as well as very good as Kate Wheeler and doesn’t let the guy’s steal her spotlight one bit and has many funny moments although I think the little love triangle was kind of stupid. But it brought more the story so I can’t be hating that much.
Consensus: Though it’s script may start to get weaker as the film’s last act starts to come, Bandits is still very funny and entertaining because of it’s playful feel to the material, and the amazing trio of leads, that make these characters so much more likable than they had any right to be.