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Bandits [VHS] 
Escaped convicts Joe (Bruce Willis) and Terry (Billy Bob Thornton) have come up with a new way to approach to bank robbery: they will take the bank manager hostage the night before, and then accompany him or her to the bank in the morning and clear out the vaults. Amazingly, the plan works, and the pair are soon known nationwide as the notorious 'Sleepover Bandits'. But when madcap housewife Kate (Cate Blanchett) joins the gang, both men quickly fall in love with her, and their previously harmonious working relationship suddenly turns sour. Directed by Barry Levinson.
Director Barry Levinson's eclectic film career has always been distinguished by quality scriptwriting, and Bandits is no exception, thanks to Harley Peyton's clever contribution. At the heart of the story is the onscreen chemistry between Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton, who, as the most successful bank robbers in US history, win the affections of the nation. The story is told via various flashback methods, such as the narration of a newscaster who gets an exclusive interview, while a framing device teases the audience with what the end will be at the start. But all is not as it seems. The impulsive hothead Willis falls easily for fiery redhead and frustrated housewife Cate Blanchett. The attraction is perfectly mutual until she realises the sweet appeal of hypochondriac Thornton. The resulting love triangle may not immediately seem to add up, especially as the romantic focus really ought to be on Willis' goofy cousin Harvey (a sensational Troy Garity) who dreams of being a stuntman. Originally Bandits was meant to be an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel, but here the tone is significantly lightened and the "Sleepover Bandits" are far more sympathetic characters than the likes of George Clooney's thief in Out of Sight. There's a kicker of a feel-good finale, too.
On the DVD: Bandits on disc has an alternative and even sweeter ending, complete with commentary from Blanchett entitled "Who's the Dad?". It's one of five deleted scenes that were presumably only cut for running time. Other extras include a "Script to Screen" workshop with Levinson, an ad for the soundtrack album and a 20-minute documentary. The real find, though, is a commentary from Willis, Thornton, Blanchett, Garity, Producer Paula Weinstein and Peyton. They may not all be in the same room, but the apportioning of anecdotes fits perfectly.--Paul Tonks --This text refers to the DVD edition.
Top customer reviews
Blanchett excels in a film where no acting is required. The humor was not a knee slapper, but did make me smile.
Parental Guide: No f-bombs, sex, or nudity.
During their successful crime spree, they separate at one point. One of them ends up comandeering the car that Kate (Cate Blanchett), a bored and neglected housewife, is in, driving off with her to their rendevous point. Kate takes to this like a duck takes to water. Before you know it, she is hot and heavy with Joe. Then she is left for a time with Terry, and, before you know it, she is hot and heavy with Terry. An unusual love triangle is born. Kate also joins them in their quest for cash, as a willing participant. Just when it seems that the end is near, however, and all is lost, a twist in the turn the film takes, will take the viewer by surprise.
Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton are excellent in their respective roles. Willis is the epitome of cool under fire and totally laidback, while Thornton is wired up and almost in Rainman mode. Cate Blanchett does her best with her role, giving it her all. While her American accent is good, however, she seems a bit like a fish out of water. She is simply not ditzy enough for the role, as too much of her innate intelligence shines through. This is not her fault. She is simply miscast in the role. Patricia Arquette or someone like her without Ms. Blanchett's sharp edges would have been a much better choice. The film, while funny and entertaining, flags a bit in the final analysis, failing to be all that it could be.
Actually based on a true story, the so-called "Sleepover Bandits" were escaped convicts. They gained notoriety by visiting bank managers at their homes, taking their families hostage, then calmly and peacefully taking the bank manager to work early the next morning to empty the safe. Portrayed in the film as rather dim characters, they wore a range of disguises when conducting the raids - which gives Willis, Thornton and Blanchett scope for some very amusing bad costumes and hilarious dialogue. This is juxtaposed against their characters' inability to agree on plans of action and strong preponderance toward violence. Very well written and nicely paced throughout. Beautiful use of colours and angles by the excellent partnership of director Barry Levinson and his director of photography Dante Spinotti - this film looks superb. Hurrah!
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