Good Looking and Itchy
Review by Ross Anthony

Kudos to writer Harley Peyton. You'll love these characters. First, there's good-looking: Willis suaves the strong, impulsive, gentle, but violent when wronged. Then there's itchy: Thornton always thinking first, passive, rambling, hypochondriac, compulsive neurotic to the nth power. The doer and the thinker make a great pairing on which the film progresses mightily from jail bust through a chain of bank robberies.

Though heavy/intense at times, most of the film is light-hearted fun. Into that mix, of course a woman strays. Though the romantic triangle provides a reprieve Banditsand complement to the bandit theme, I'm not convinced it's entirely necessary. As is, several of these interludes run long and should have been edited to more petite durations. Though interesting, the Kate (Cate) character quickly becomes just too sweet of a writer's muse upon which to play great dialogue off of the two leads.

The film opens near the end, then retraces its steps by means of a TV crime show host's interspersed narration and interviews: "People fear you, they fear your presence, the gun really is secondary."

This structure (show part of the ending first) while fresh some years back (i.e. "Pulp Fiction") starts to wear my patience now. But like "Pulp" there's fair reason for this form in "Bandits."

Willis and Thornton deliver big in the acting department, while Blanchett has her moments, she also has her moments of overacting (and yes, I realize that's part of her character's description). Lesser known Troy Garity also holds his own with these big names.

You'll absolutely adore an awkwardly warm dinner sequence in which these two "bandits" play guests (sort of) to a family at the supper table. This scene is perfect.

Despite a less than fresh, less than plausible climax; this and other flaws are simply and happily overwhelmed by the great story and acting. In fact, had the wrinkles been ironed out, we'd be talking about one of the best films of the year. Well-oiled dialogue and straight-faced delivery make these bandits slick, crispy and comedic. A strong "A-".

  • Bandits. Copyright © 2001. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Troy Garity.
  • Directed by Barry Levinson.
  • Written by Harley Peyton.
  • Produced by Barry Levinson, Paula Weinstein at MGM/Hyde Park/Empire/Lotus/Cheyenne/Baltimore-Spring.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:18:45 PDT