January 3, 2002 -- "Bandits" is an ultra-light comedy about a couple of bank robbers who fall in love with the same woman. Most of the funniest gags revolve around the fact that one of the bank robbers is a hypochondriac.
Joe Blake (played by Bruce Willis of "Unbreakable") and Terry Collins (Billy Bob Thornton of "The Man Who Wasn't There") are hoping a final string of bank robberies will finance their dream of running their own resort south of the border. After one robbery, Collins flags down a car driven by Kate Wheeler (Cate Blanchett of "Lord of Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings"), planning to take the car and use it to make a quick getaway. Wheeler won't give up the car, but she agrees to drive Collins to the robbers' hideout. Intoxicated by the excitement of the bank robbers life, Wheeler decides to travel with them and become part of the team.
Blake and Collins are known as the "Sleepover Bandits" because of their method of operation. They visit the home of the bank president the night before the robbery, take the family hostage, stay the night and then take the bank president with them the next day, robbing the bank before it opens, using the president's keys and vault access codes. The pair are gentlemen bandits. They are polite and they don't shoot people. They use their wits to get the money.
The running gag in the film is that Collins is a hypochondriac, always thinking that he has some terrible disease. Due to his lifestyle, he never seems to see a doctor about any of his conditions, however. All he is able to do is complain a lot. Both Blake and Collins fall in love with Wheeler and this causes problems in their already shaky relationship. We get to know the three main characters pretty well by the end of the film, but the story is not character-driven. The story is basically a caper film with a little romance thrown in, sort of like "Ocean's 11," but not as slick.
If one were to take this film seriously, it would be disturbing. It makes robbing a bank and escaping from prison seem very easy and glamorous. The bank robbers are the heroes of the film. We are asked to believe that kidnapping people and robbing banks at gunpoint can be done repeatedly over a period of years without anyone getting hurt. Yeah, right. This is obviously not a serious, or a believable, film. It is just very thin, light entertainment. The lead actors all are effective, especially Thornton, who has had a remarkable year, appearing in a number of quality films, including "Monster's Ball" and "The Man Who Wasn't There" This film rates a B.
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