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Bandits sees the reunion of actors Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton, in their first film together since the Michael Bay directed Armageddon. I had heard mixed opinions on the film following its release at Cinemas so chose to let this one pass for another day. Well that day has finally arrived……….and I’m glad.

"Next week....The Teletubbie Massacre!"
Movie
Bruce Willis plays Joe, an inmate in a high security prison. Accompanying Joe is his long time friend and accompliss Terry played by Billy Bob Thornton. It turns out that this mismatched duo were two of America’s most successful bank robbers. Naturally, it isn’t long before they escape! On the run with no money, no clothes, and no plan….it isn’t long before they again turn to crime with the surreal hijacking of one ladies car; followed almost instantaneously with a bank hold-up……using only a marker pen!

Success is finally at their door it seems; and their dreams of opening up a luxury hotel in Acapulco seem as close as ever. Money is the only problem……until a cunning plan is born. They will rob a bank during the day, with the bank manager, with the bank manager’s keys……because….they kidnap him the night before…

It’s been a while since old Brucey has had a good film under his belt…. thankfully though, that spell has now been broken; as Bandits really delivers. If you’re expecting an action movie in the same vein as Die Hard you will be disappointed. Sure, the film has a reasonably fair share of action and suspense, but the main pull factor is without a doubt the character interaction. Billy Bob Thornton is really on top form as the fearful hypochondriac, and much of the movies jokes revolve around him. Likewise Cate Blanchett puts in a good performance that couldn’t be more different from her role as Elizabeth in the movie of the same name.

The story itself flows reasonably well. The opening scene has you thrown straight into a tense bank robbery standoff that really has you guessing as to what’s going to happen next. It is then that we find out that the two robbers will die at the end of this standoff, which triggers a flashback to how everything began. The movie is really a strange mix of action, comedy and romance, though the film never really decides fully on which path to follow. At times I did think the film leaned more towards the romantic side of things, however it never really elaborates much on the situation. For example, the movie danced around the idea of a menage-a-trois for much of the film, but without committing to anything…. perhaps this is mainly because of the 12 certificate.

Overall though, this film is certainly well worth a watch. The film features a solid soundtrack and enough twists and turns to keep you focused for the 2-hour runtime, which culminates in a satisfying ending. Performances on the whole are above average, and it’s great to see Bruce Willis back on screen although he’s never really tested much with the material.

"We were meant to be leaving the prison behind...not bringing it!"
Video
MGM are always pretty trustworthy when it comes to movie transfers, and you won’t be disappointed with this one. We are given a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer, which is enhanced for 16:9 televisions. As you would expect from such a recent release, the image remains crisp throughout; and colour remains true to form on skin tones etc. I noticed no noticeable grain or edge enhancement, so all in all a very comprehensive transfer.

Sound
For a film as diverse at this, obviously the sound is going to vary a lot. During the action sequences you can expect a pretty thorough workout of your sound system, with a fair amount of usage of the rear speakers. However, seeing as the bulk of the film revolves around talking you can’t really expect too much from this track, though obviously that isn’t a fault of the 5.1. Despite this, sound remains crystal clear throughout, and although the track isn’t anything close to amazing, the film really doesn’t require it to be.

Extras
This is where the disc really shines. For a start, this release of Bandits contains an exclusive commentary featuring Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Cater Blanched, Troy Gritty, Producer Paula Weinstein, Writer and Executive Producer Harley Peyton. Whether this was dropped from the Region 1 release due to time constraints is unclear, but this is certainly a welcome addition for this release. The commentary itself is pretty rewarding, although each person seems to have recorded their commentary separately, which eliminates the interesting (or not) banter you quite often get from commentaries like these.

Also included on the disc is a selection of 4 deleted scenes and an alternate ending presented in Anamorphic Widescreen. These scenes are in an unfinished state, so you can expect missing sounds and a small amount of edge enhancement was also apparent. The first two of these scenes primarily revolve around one of the kidnapped bank managers who has been secretly having an affair with a member of staff from the bank. Thankfully this story was dropped from the actual film, however it’s interesting to watch in its entirety and gives Bruce a bit more airtime, which can’t be a bad thing! The second 2 short scenes revolve around Blanchett’s character trying to convince Joe and Terry to retire early and a conversation about Joe and Terry’s love for Kate. The alternate ending isn’t really very alternate at all, as it is featured in the credits anyway. It basically shows Kate as being pregnant but making it unclear as to who the father of the child is. This ending comes with an optional commentary with Cate Blanchett, and although it is nice to hear her thoughts; she doesn’t really have anything too interesting to say…..sorry Cate!

Next up is a 20minute featurette entitled ‘Inside Bandits’ which features a fair amount of behind the scenes footage; but mainly promotional interviews and clips from the film. A pretty run of the mill DVD feature really and presented in full frame.

Moulin Rouge Auditions
The second featurette is entitled ‘Script to Screen Workshop – creating scene 71 (The Bed Scene)’. This is an interesting little feature, as it really analyses how this scene came together from the original concept up to the finished product. The feature combines footage from the movie; alternate takes as well as interviews with the director, producer and cast members. This featurette is presented in both full frame and widescreen and runs to around 6 minutes.

Completing the disc is the theatrical trailer, which runs to 2minutes and 20 seconds, and a short Soundtrack promo, which runs to just over 30seconds. Both of these are presented in widescreen.

Conclusion
Overall we get an above average disc for an above average film. I was slightly disappointed by the static menus for the DVD, but that is only a minor complaint. If you’re a fan of Bruce Willis, you’ll be glad to see him back on the screen, though I have to admit…it’s Billy Bob Thornton that really steals the show.


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