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Bandits Reviews

A madcap, action-filled crime comedy in the spirit of MIDNIGHT RUN and OUT OF SIGHT, this is the tale of two best friends, reportedly "the most successful bank robbers in the history of the U.S.," who (with a little help from a cement mixer) stage a spectacular breakout from an Oregon prison and go on an unprecedented bank robbery spree. Loose-cannon Joe (Bruce Willis) wants to pull off some big scores so that he and quirky hypochondriac Terry (Billy Bob Thornton, vamping wonderfully) can set themselves up for life in paradise. Though hobbled by a laundry list of phobias — including a fear of antique furniture — Terry is the brains behind the operation and comes up with a seemingly foolproof plan that's executed with the help of Joe's inept, aspiring stuntman cousin Harvey (Troy Garity). Everything is going swimmingly until the bumbling Terry runs out of gas and is first run over, then picked up by neurotic, thoroughbred housewife Kate (Cate Blanchett). Trapped in a bad marriage, Kate naturally attaches herself to Joe and Terry, both of whom fall madly in love with the Bonnie Tyler-obsessed beauty. Directed by Barry Levinson, the film unfolds primarily through flashbacks arranged around an interview with the hijacked host of an America's Most Wanted-style TV show, videotaped the day before the last big heist. While the program following their crime spree has been portraying Joe and Terry as hardened criminals, it's become patently obvious to a fascinated nation that these two bantering buddies — who have an extensive (and self-mocking) wig collection, and aren't afraid to use it — wouldn't hurt a fly. Willis, Thornton and Blanchett are in peak form in this light-hearted caper, delivering the sharply comic dialogue with wit and panache. Sure, there are gaffes — it would be nice if filmmakers could, in the future, spare us the clichéd establishing scene in which a woman sings into a kitchen utensil — but overall the mix of comedy and action is smooth and utterly enjoyable.