- The Washington Times - Friday, October 12, 2001

"Bandits" gives us a pair of would-be adorable criminal heroes, Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton as escaped cons who collaborate on a facetious batch of bank robberies down the Pacific Coast. As the brains of the gang, a hypochondriac fussbudget named Terry Collins (Mr. Thornton) dreams up their distinctive modus operandi: taking bank managers hostage on the evening before the caper, thereby easing both vault access and getaways on the morning after.
The habitually squabbling, middle-aged Rover Boys speed away from a penitentiary in Oregon by impulsively hijacking a cement truck an inspiration of Mr. Willis' character, Joe Blake, a roughneck and man of action, distinguished mostly by the actor's incessant smirk and the funniest hairpiece ever, a long and wavy creation that proves the best suspense element in the movie, since you expect it to slide off the back of his skull during every strenuous interlude.
Terry and Joe envision a serene early retirement with their ill-gotten gains in Mexico. Loath to deny them anything, screenwriter Harley Peyton and director Barry Levinson, evidently persuaded to make a movie for the incorrigible chuckleheads, also recruit a mutual consort: Cate Blanchett as a kook named Kate Wheeler, a scatterbrained housewife who falls for both guys after an accidental encounter.
Despite the ringing endorsement Kate cannot prefer one crook over the other because "together you're the perfect man" the menage a trois may not enjoy an upsurge in desirability because of "Bandits." The filmmakers overrate the felonious charm of everyone involved. It's much easier to recommend the movie as a cautionary disgrace: the epitome of worthless Hollywood escapism at this particular moment.
Not that "Bandits" would cease to look worthless in times of no urgency or gravity whatever, but its mercenary and lazy defects tend to be magnified this season.
The characters seem to embody little beyond the complacency of successful movie people treating themselves to a light anti-social workout, while presumably collecting a generous stipend up front.
Joe is allowed to rebuke Kate into silence when she initially mocks his form of thieving. "The government steals money from people," he grumbles. "We take it back from them."
The peppier performers, Mr. Thornton and Miss Blanchett, get more eccentric value from their coy love scenes.
Leaving Mr. Willis out of the loop might not be noticed outside the set who keep a vigilant eye on his wigs. You sort of root for this one to justify its extravagance by doing something radical, perhaps levitating or taking the wheel of a getaway vehicle.
This is the kind of stale trifle that needs to keep the motor running in its own getaway plans, while hoping that the customers being fleeced don't turn actively contemptuous and vindictive.

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