An aging alcoholic cop is assigned the task of escorting a witness from police custody to a courthouse 16 blocks away. There are, however, chaotic forces at work that prevent them from making it in one piece.
When a family is held hostage, former hostage negotiator Jeff Talley arrives at the scene. Talley's own family is kidnapped and Talley must decide which is more important: saving a family he doesn't even know or saving his own family.
Serena Scott Thomas
Two convicts, one charismatic (Willis) and the other a hypochondriac (Thornton), break out of prison and immediately start a bank robbing spree, kidnapping bank managers, spending the night with their families, then going with the managers in the morning to rob the banks. Using a dim-witted stunt man as their getaway driver and lookout, the three successfully pull off several jobs (even gaining the attention of a television show about American criminals), and become known as "The Sleepover Bandits." Things are going great until the bank managers begin to realize that the robbers are non-violent and therefore no threat to them or their employees, changing the game for the Bandits. To add to the complications, a bored & unhappy housewife (Blanchett) ends up in the hands of the criminals, and begins to have romantic feelings for both Willis and Thornton, causing a sticky love triangle.Written by
John Sacksteder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Joe and Kate appear to switch sides in bed - but one of the shots is as seen in the mirror and there is no continuity error. See more »
You're gonna knock over a bank with a Magic Marker? What are you gonna do, write on 'em?
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During the end credits on the left side of the screen, you see 2 events happening: 1) Harvey and Claire (the Pink Boots girl) getting married in Mexico & 2) Some more outtake footage from the bandits' interview with Darren Head. See more »
As the movie opens Joe Blake (Bruce Willis) and Terry Collins (Billy Bob Thornton) are holed up in a downtown LA bank. Naturally Terry is freaking out.
`One last big heist! What a great idea! Joe knows best. And what does Joe get me? Stuck in a bank called the Alamo surrounded by the entire Los Angeles police force.'
How did America's most famous bank robbers get in this mess? Reporting from the scene, tabloid TV host Darren Head (Bobby Slayton) tells viewers the pair visited his home a few nights ago and forced him at gunpoint to film their version of events.
`The result is part soap opera, part crime drama,' he intones, Geraldo-like, ` it's part 'Bonnie and Clyde', it's part Barnum and Bailey.'
Uh oh, I feel a flashback coming on. Sure enough, the movie spools back to the duo's daring escape from an Oregon prison and a subsequent string of bank robberies with Joe's cousin, Harvey (Troy Garity), a wannabe stunt man, acting as getaway driver. Nervous, timid, a hopeless hypochondriac, Terry tends to fret over small details (`I ask him to get me a good mustache and he gets me something that looks as if it came out of a Cracker Jack box.') Joe, on the other hand, is cucumber cool, whether sweet-talking a lady or stealing her car. Of course, he can be a tad impulsive. Take the way he improvises a bank robbery on the spot, disarming the guard by sticking a Magic Marker in his back and pretending it is a gun. Now, Terry, he's cautious and methodical. It's his idea to kidnap a bank manager after work, spend the night with the family and open the safe in the morning.before business hours. (As for Harvey, well, he's not the brightest light on the string but, as Joe says, "he's honest and he falls real good.")
Everything goes smoothly (more or less) until unhappy housewife Kate Wheeler (Cate Blanchett) bumps into Terry while he is attempting to hijack her car. `I'm a desperate man,' he tells her, none too convincingly. `Desperate? You don't know the meaning of the word,' she sobs, zigzagging in and out of traffic like a demented Indy driver. `Desperate is waking up every morning and wishing you hadn't.' `On second thought, why don't you just pull over and let me out,' he pleads. No such luck. Terry represents an opportunity to escape the emptiness of her life and she is not going to let him get away. Since she refuses to stop the car, the pair winds up at the motel hideout. For Joe it's lust at first sight. For Terry, well, he recognizes trouble when he sees it (`Kate is an iceberg waiting for the Titanic.') Too late. Kate becomes romantically entangled with both men and is unable to choose (`Together, you make up the perfect man.')
Director Barry Levinson gives his actors plenty of room to move and they respond with some intriguing choices. Thornton is wonderfully twitchy while Willis handles his role with straight-faced panache. Picture Abbott and Costello playing Butch and Sundance. Blanchett's Kate is the perfect female match for these characters. After seeing her as a regal young monarch in `Elizabeth', a troubled welfare mom in `The Gift' and a deliriously funny refugee housewife in this film, I'm convinced there is nothing this chameleonic actress cannot do. As for Garity, he's a natural born talent. Harvey may be a little slow on the draw but it only adds to the character's naïve goofy charm. I like the way Garity savors his dialogue. He talks like Willie Nelson sings, the line readings a little `behind the beat' and flavored with a hint of country twang.
The script (by Harley Peyton) ripples with wry movie references. The video the two teens are watching in that first home Joe and Terry break into? It's 1963's The Great Escape (that's Steve McQueen on the motorbike.) During Kate's first night at the hideout, Joe gallantly stretches a curtain across the bed he is sharing with her. `Saw it in a movie,' he explains. The reference, of course, is to the famous scene in 1934's It Happened One Night. Peyton also slips in sly nods to boomer music faves like Bonnie Tyler and a certain Canuck rock icon. `You really think you're going to fool anyone in that get up,' asks Cloe (Stacy Travis), the wife of kidnapped bank manager Darrill Miller (Brian O'Byrne). `I mean, you look like Neil Young in . what was that album . 'After the Horses'?. ` `It was 'After the Gold Rush',' Terry says. ` And, besides, that's not the one. It's the one where he's leaning against a tree in the snow or whatever. That was actually what I was going for.' (That would be 1969's `Everybody Knows This is Nowhere.') Some of the show biz satire may be a little obscure. For example, Joe likes to read Sun Tzu's The Art of War. This would seem to be a dig at fallen uberagent Mike Ovitz who reputedly used the ancient Chinese text on strategy as a guide to daily living during his Hollywood heyday. Peyton sketches his characters with a droll wit reminiscent of Elmore Leonard, not surprising when you consider that the screenwriter adapted Leonard's `Gold Coast' for a 1997 TV movie. (I looked it up in the IMDB database.)
Although it begins to run out of steam in the last half-hour `Bandits' is still great fun for savvy film buffs with its appeal skewing towards an older boomer demographic.
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