After a daring jailbreak, bank robbers Joe and Terry embark on a crime spree. They smoothly empty a bank vault, but the arrival of housewife Kate to the crew threatens to split them apart.
There's something reassuringly reliable about Barry Levinson's movies. He's the cinematic equivalent of a mid-range Volvo. You're not going to have a life-changing experience, but neither are you likely to have to call Watchdog. Bandits is no exception to the "generally quite good" rule, finessing its way slickly through a well-built script and showcasing two reasonably entertaining performances and one standout one.
The central appeal of the movie are Willis and Thornton who, as a comedy duo, display the ease and familiarity of Butch and Sundance. They're served by a screenplay which delivers enough honed repartee to keep at bay the potentially unpleasant fact that these two make their living terrorising innocent people. Cate Blanchett is serviceable as the Thelma-esque frustrated housewife with a liking for power ballads who hooks up with the boys. But it's Thornton who, as is increasingly the case, is the real crowdpleaser - a hypochondriac host of tics, twitches and dubious medical insight who snaffles the best lines with all the expertise of a high street pickpocket.
The good generally outweighs those parts that lack imagination. A fantastic jailbreak in a cement mixer (complete with an ingenious and witty helicopter shot of the massive truck rumbling through suburban back gardens) makes up for a pretty redundant "Real Crime TV" framing device. Meanwhile, the eclectic soundtrack and Dante Spinotti's high-gloss cinematography covers over a rather obvious plot twist. There's also the slight problem that the heists themselves aren't quite as exciting as they should be, and the menage a trois doesn't resolve itself in a particularly satisfying, or credible, way.
But all this is made up for by the general bonhomie and an array of the most entertainingly unpleasant hairpieces to appear on the big screen since Burt Reynolds' career imploded.
Perfectly acceptable caper movie with Thornton particularly firing on all cylinders. Most of the stealing is from Billy Bob, who pinches whole scenes, but who cares when the lines are so good? You won't feel robbed.